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Toronto-area ozone: Long-term measurements and modelled sources of poor air quality events

Abstract : The University of Toronto Atmospheric Observatory and Environment Canada's Centre for Atmospheric Research Experiments each has over a decade of ground-based Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy measurements in southern Ontario. We present the Toronto area FTIR time series from 2002 to 2013 of two tropospheric trace gases—ozone and carbon monoxide—along with surface in situ measurements taken by government monitoring programs. We interpret their variability with the GEOS-Chem chemical transport model and determine the atmospheric conditions that cause pollution events in the time series. Our analysis includes a regionally tagged O3 model of the 2004–2007 time period, which quantifies the geographical contributions to Toronto area O3. The important emission types for 15 pollution events are then determined with a high-resolution adjoint model. Toronto O3, during pollution events, is most sensitive to southern Ontario and U.S. fossil fuel NOx emissions and natural isoprene emissions. The sources of Toronto pollution events are found to be highly variable, and this is demonstrated in four case studies representing local, short-, middle-, and long-range transport scenarios. This suggests that continental-scale emission reductions could improve air quality in the Toronto region. We also find that abnormally high temperatures and high-pressure systems are common to all pollution events studied, suggesting that climate change may impact Toronto O3. Finally, we quantitatively compare the sensitivity of the surface and column measurements to anthropogenic NOx emissions and show that they are remarkably similar. This work thus demonstrates the usefulness of FTIR measurements in an urban area to assess air quality.
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Cynthia H. Whaley, K. Strong, D. B. A. Jones, T. W. Walker, Z. Jiang, et al.. Toronto-area ozone: Long-term measurements and modelled sources of poor air quality events. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, American Geophysical Union, 2015, 120 (21), pp.11368-11390. ⟨10.1002/2014JD022984⟩. ⟨insu-01236182⟩



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