UDAQ Aircraft Studies for PM2.5 and Ozone

In an effort to prepare for upcoming PM2.5 and Ozone State Implementation Plan (SIP) development and further understand dynamic air pollution components, the Utah Division of Air Quality (UDAQ) conducted the most extensive air quality study to date in this region during January 2017.  The January 2017 study focused on:

  • Source and distribution of precursor gases and aerosols;
  • Major processes leading to particulate matter including variation with time of day, variation in height above ground level and the role of Great Salt Lake in regional air quality; and
  • Major aerosol components including ammonium nitrate, organic aerosols, and chloride sulfates.

This study involved a series of 15 research flights conducted between January 16 and 31, 2017 which are referred to as the NOAA Twin Otter Research Flights.  The aircraft which conducted these flights carried sensors which monitored for aerosol (particulate matter) composition and size distributions; acid gases; nitrogen oxides (NOx); ozone; and ammonia.  Data was collected from 1,000 to 2,500 feet over Salt Lake, Provo, West Jordan, Spanish Fork, Tooele, Ogden, Brigham City, and Logan.  Preliminary data showed especially high concentrations of particulate matter were found in all but Provo and Spanish Fork.

Aircraft flights were augmented by continuous measurement of chemistry and meteorology in Logan, Salt Lake and Lindon as well as a passive ammonia sampling network, and snow sampling.

While UDAQ is still compiling final results, they are hopeful that this study will provide insights into the drivers behind fine particulate pollution during winter inversions along the Wasatch Front and ozone pollution in the oil and gas producing region of the Uinta Basin.  Additionally, UDAQ anticipates that this information will assist with the development of targeted, highly effective and economical ways to meet increasingly stringent air quality health standards.