Evidence for impacts on surface-level air quality in the northeastern US from long-distance transport of smoke from North American fires during the Long Island Sound Tropospheric Ozone Study (LISTOS) 2018.
Rogers HM, Ditto JC, Gentner DR. Evidence for impacts on surface-level air quality in the northeastern US from long-distance transport of smoke from North American fires during the Long Island Sound Tropospheric Ozone Study (LISTOS) 2018. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 2020;20(2):671-82.
Biomass burning is a large source of uncontrolled air pollutants, including particulate matter (i.e., PM 2.5), black carbon (BC), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and carbon monoxide (CO), which have significant effects on air quality, human health, and climate. Measurements of PM 2.5 , BC, and CO made at the Yale Coastal Field Station in Guilford, CT, and five other sites in the metropolitan New York City (NYC) area indicate long-distance transport of pollutants from wildfires and other biomass burning to surface-level sites in the region. Here, we examine two such events occurring on 16–17 and 27–29 August 2018. In addition to regionally consistent enhancements in the surface concentrations of gases and particulates associated with biomass burning, satellite imagery confirms the presence of smoke plumes in the NYC–Connecticut region during these events. Back-trajectory modeling indicates that air masses arriving at surface-level sites in coastal Connecticut on 16–17 August passed over the western coast of Canada, near multiple large wildfires. In contrast, air parcels arriving on 27–29 August passed over active fires in the southeastern United States. The results of this study demonstrate that biomass burning events throughout the US and Canada (at times more than 4000 km away), which are increasing in frequency, impact surface-level air quality beyond regional scales, including in NYC and the northeastern US.