Category: Northern Utah Air Pollution Current & Ongoing Studies

Inversion Photo by B. LeBaron

Current & Recently Completed Studies

image of downtown SLC with smoke

The Salt Lake Regional Smoke, Ozone and Aerosol Study (SAMOZA)

The University of Washington, Utah State University and the University of Montana will conduct a detailed study of ozone (O3) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the Salt Lake Valley (SLV). Using new VOC observations, plus existing measurements of NOx, CO and PM2.5, they will use a variety of analyses to understand O3 formation and the sources of PM2.5 in the SLV during the summertime season. In addition, they will conduct photochemical modeling and statistical/machine learning analyses to improve our understanding of O3 photochemistry. We expect to gain significant new policy-relevant insights on what controls high concentrations of O3 in the SLV during both smoke-influenced and non-smoke conditions.

  • Principal Investigator: Dan Jaffe (University of Washington)
  • Funded by Science for Solutions Research Grant: $280,516
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Smoke plume from the wildfire in Parleys Canyon, Utah on 14 Aug. 2021.

Improving Smoke Detection and Quantifying the Wildfire Smoke Impacts on Local Air Quality Using Modeling and Machine Learning Techniques

Though it can be easy to tell that wildfire smoke has negative impacts on urban air quality, there is no tool to quantitatively measure wildfire impacts, nor to identify whether exceedance days are due to wildfire smoke or other emissions. The first scope of this work will develop a new plume rise model to estimate the plume injection heights for larger wildfires, which will improve simulations of smoke transport and downwind air pollution concentrations. The second scope of this work is to use CTM (chemical transport model) ensemble simulations to determine wildfire smoke contributions to local air quality using source apportionment techniques. The last scope of this work is to develop a fast-response tool to identify federal standards (NAAQS) exceedance days with large contributions from wildfire smoke.

  • Principal Investigator: Heather Holmes (University of Utah)
  • Funded by Science for Solutions Research Grant: $61,738
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Improved Vegetation Data for the Biogenic Emission Inventory of Wasatch Front

Improved Vegetation Data for the Biogenic Emission Inventory of Wasatch Front

The goal of this project is to improve numerical predictions of regional ozone and aerosol distributions in the Wasatch Front by developing more accurate estimates of biogenic volatile organic carbon (BVOC) emissions for the urban areas within the Northern Wasatch Front. Specifically, this project will upgrade modeled MEGAN (Model of Emissions of Gasses and Aerosols from Nature) BVOC emission estimates by analyzing high-resolution satellite imagery using machine learning, object-based classifications that are calibrated and assessed by field observations. Such techniques have already successfully been applied in Texas and California. These techniques will improve MEGAN landcover inputs for the Wasatch Front region including time-varying Leaf Area Index (LAI), growth form fractions (tree, shrub, crops, herbaceous plants) and tree species composition (e.g., relative abundance of oaks, poplars, pines, spruce, etc). The benefit of this project will be an improved MEGAN emission model for the Wasatch Front that is available for use in air quality models that are critical for our scientific understanding and the development of effective regulatory strategies.

  • Principal Investigator: Tejas Shah (Ramboll US Consulting)
  • Funded by Science for Solutions Research Grant: $124,797
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Image of the impaction substrates

Particulate Chloride in the Urban Environment

The University of Utah will conduct a study intended to significantly reduce uncertainties regarding the temporal, spatial, and particle size distributions of particulate chloride. Through source apportionment, the study will also identify the dominant sources of this important halogen. These results will provide important emission inventory constraints for future air quality modeling efforts performed by UDAQ and others.

  • Principal Investigator: Kevin Perry (University of Utah)
  • Funded by Science for Solutions Research Grant: $75,735
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Image: Formation region over Farmington Bay at 11 AM and lake breeze boundary (blue line) progressing by 1 PM down the Salt Lake Valley.

Impacts of the Great Salt Lake on Summer Ozone Concentrations Along the Wasatch Front

The University of Utah is conducting a study to determine the meteorological factors that contribute to elevated surface ozone near the Great Salt Lake. The core task for this project is to evaluate from ozone observations and meteorological observations and model analyses the timing of buildup in ozone in the southern Farmington Bay region and subsequent transport into Davis and Salt Lake counties. Completion of this task will provide resources that are likely to enhance operational air quality forecasting and provide critical information to initialize and verify air chemistry models used to identify approaches to meet federal air quality standards.

  • Principal Investigator: John Horel (University of Utah)
  • Funded by Science for Solutions Research Grant: $63,084
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Image: WRF 2-m air temperature and wind velocity predictions on 10-km grid for northern Utah at 4:00 am April 12, 2017 (left) and 4:00 am April 13, 2017 (right).

Development of a WRF-based Urban Canopy Model for the Greater Salt Lake City Area

Brigham Young University will conduct a two-year project that will utilize state-of-the-science meteorological modeling with land use descriptions of the Great Salt Lake area to characterize impacts of urban growth on local meteorological conditions. Model methodology and usage will be documented so air quality modelers can use existing or self-developed future results for additional urban growth and air pollutant assessments.

  • Principal Investigator: Bradley Adams (BYU)
  • Funded by Science for Solutions Research Grant: $59,411
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Vertical Ozone Profiles in the Uinta Basin and Validating Drones as an Air Measurement Platform

The University of Utah will conduct vertical ozone profile measurements from ground level to the mid-stratosphere to develop a better understanding of ozone layers and evolution over Utah. Data collected by drones and balloons will provide information on the vertical distribution of ozone and nitrous dioxide (NO2) among other gases. This data will be used by UDAQ to inform policy and decision makers.

  • Tony Saad (UU), John Sohl (Weber State University)
  • Funded by Science for Solutions Research Grant: $92,463
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Quantitative Attribution of Wildfires Map Image

Quantitative Attribution of Wildfires on Summertime Ozone Concentrations along the Wasatch Front

Wildfires can significantly enhance summertime ozone and aerosol concentrations, which can degrade air quality and have adverse effects on human health. While air quality has improved across much of the U.S., the Western U.S. has seen a recent increase in wildfire activity. This project will assess the contribution of regional fires and long-range smoke transport to poor air quality in the Salt Lake Valley. This study will also improve our understanding of how wildfires interact with urban plumes, improve air quality modeling capabilities, and guide the implementation of effective regulatory policies.

  • Adam Kochanski (San Jose State University), Derek Mallia (UU), Kerry Kelly (UU)
  • Funded by Science for Solutions Research Grant: $79,768
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Halogen Sources Map Image

Halogen Sources and their Influence on Winter Air Pollution in the Great Salt Lake Basin

The Great Salt Lake Basin is meteorologically and chemically distinct from other regions in the U.S. It is subject to both persistent cold air pools in complex terrain that lead to winter air pollution and potentially large inputs of natural and anthropogenic sources of halogen species. This project will investigate the role of these halogen sources in regulating the severity of winter fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Results from this study will improve estimates of halogen emissions and enhance Utah DAQ’s understanding of winter PM2.5 chemistry.

  • Steve Brown (NOAA), Caroline Womack (NOAA)
  • Funded by Science for Solutions Research Grant: $83,426
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PM2.5 Graph

Characterizing Air Quality Impacts from Exceptional Events along the Wasatch Front

This study, led by researchers at BYU, will use particulate matter (PM) sampling to identify regional dust sources that impact local air quality and public health, as well as model how dust sources might change in the future.

  • Principal Investigators: Dr. Greg Carling (BYU)
  • Funded by Science for Solutions Research Grant: $150,000
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Trax Map

TRAX Air Quality Observation Project (Blue Line)

The TRAX air quality project continues to measure PM2.5 and ozone from TRAX light rail trains, and will add measurements to the Blue line. All data is publicly available and posted in near real-time on the MesoWest website.

  • Principal Investigators: Daniel Mendoza, Logan Mitchell, John Horel, John Lin (UU)
  • Funded by legislative appropriation: $44,000
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Red Butte Canyon Graph

The Red Butte Canyon Air Mass Exchange and Pollution Transport Study

The University of Utah will make measurements of vertical wind and aerosol profiles, as well as ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations at the mouth of Red Butte Canyon in order to better understand air exchange in the Salt Lake Valley during wintertime PM2.5 events.

  • Principal Investigators: Sebastian W. Hoch, Erik T. Crosman (UU)
  • Funded by Science for Solutions Research Grant: $34,965
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The Red Butte Canyon Ozone Network:
Leveraging Existing Infrastructure to Probe Background Concentrations, Canyon Flows, and Stratospheric Oxidant Exchange

This study will deploy a number of ozone sensors at different distances up Red Butte Canyon to better understand natural gradients in ozone and how phenomena like large thunderstorms and valley drainage flows contribute to ozone concentrations in the Salt Lake Valley.

  • Principal Investigators: Logan Mitchell, Ryan Bares, David Eiriksson (UU)
  • Funded by Science for Solutions Research Grant: $39,833
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Fireplace Photo from Unsplash by Hayden Scott

Understanding How Wood-Burning’s Contribution to Particulate Matter Concentrations Have Changed over Time

Wood burning contributes to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution in the Wasatch Front, and reducing the use of wood burning during pollution episodes has been the focus of many policy decisions. This study looks at patterns of temperature, heat deficit, and day of the week along with markers of woodsmoke and mandatory no-burn days, to try and understand if public awareness and policy efforts have been effective in reducing wood burning during pollution events.

  • Principal Investigator: Kerry Kelly (UU)
  • Funded for: $25,215
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Wasatch Front Map

Wasatch Front Ammonia and Chloride Observations (WaFACO)

The objective of this study is to define the spatio-temporal behavior of atmospheric ammonia (NH3) and hydrochloric acid (HCl) along the Wasatch Front across both summer and winter seasons. This objective will be accomplished through three tasks developed in consultation with UDAQ and the U.S. EPA. These tasks include 1) networked NH3 and HCl observations, 2) particulate chloride spatial distributions, and 3) mobile real-time NH3 assessments.

  • Principal Investigators: Randal S. Martin (USU), Kerry Kelly (UU), Jaron Hansen (BYU)
  • Funded by Science for Solutions Grant: $210,000
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Wood Burning Stove Photo by Donna Kemp Spangler

Aethalometer Study for Estimating Compliance
with Wood-burning Ban

The University of Utah Department of Chemical Engineering will collaborate with UDAQ to estimate the contributions of wood burning to wintertime PM2.5 levels using aethalometer data from four locations and from mobile aethalometer measurements. The goal of this study is to identify and understand levels of wood burning and compliance with wood-burning restrictions during the winter of 2018/2019.

  • Principal Investigator: Kerry Kelly (UU)
  • Funded by Science for Solutions Grant: $30,000
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