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Winter Inversion Study

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Valleys along the Wasatch Mountains (Cache, Salt Lake and Utah) experience high levels of particulate matter (PM) in winter months and are currently designated as non-attainment area for particulate matter with diameters less than 2.5 micron (PM2.5). The chemical aspects of these pollution episodes are not well characterized. In order to fill in this gap in our knowledge, researchers from Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), University of Utah (UofU), Utah State University (USU), and Weber State University (WSU), and Chemical Sciences Division (CSD), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, conducted a study on wintertime PM pollution in Salt Lake Valley between December 2015 and February 2016. This study aimed to investigate the coupling of chemical and meteorological processes driving the particulate pollution episodes in Salt Lake Valley. Because of the complex nature of this issue, the researchers used an integrated approach based on observations on the roof of William Browning Building at the University of Utah, mobile and aerostat measurements of chemical and meteorological parameters to improve the scientific understanding of these pollution episodes. Very unique aspect of this study was its focus on the chemical detail and a pseudo vertical approach used to investigate the chemistry.

This study was a prelude to larger Utah Winter Fine Particulate Study, which investigated the chemical composition of the air, vertical and spatial distribution of key species, and the relevant chemistry from specially equipped NOAA aircraft and 5 ground-based sites in the Salt Lake, Cache and Utah valleys during wintertime PM2.5 pollution episodes.

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