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Seasonal variation in atmospheric pollutants transport in central Chile: dynamics and consequences

Abstract : Central Chile faces atmospheric pollution issues all year long as a result of elevated concentrations of fine particulate matter during the cold months and tropospheric ozone during the warm season. In addition to public health issues, environmental problems regarding vegetation growth and water supply, as well as meteorological feedback, are at stake. Sharp spatial gradients in regional emissions, along with a complex geographical situation, make for variable and heterogeneous dynamics in the localization and long-range transport of pollutants, with seasonal differences. Based on chemistry-transport modeling with Weather Research Forecasting (WRF)-CHIMERE, this work studies the following for one winter period and one summer period: (i) the contribution of emissions from the city of Santiago to air pollution in central Chile, and (ii) the reciprocal contribution of regional pollutants transported into the Santiago basin. The underlying 3-dimensional advection patterns are investigated. We find that, on average for the winter period, 5 to 10 µg m−3 of fine particulate matter in Santiago come from regional transport, corresponding to between 13 % and 15 % of average concentrations. In turn, emissions from Santiago contribute between 5 % and 10 % of fine particulate matter pollution as far as 500 km to the north and 500 km to the south. Wintertime transport occurs mostly close to the surface. In summertime, exported precursors from Santiago, in combination with mountain-valley circulation dynamics, are found to account for most of the ozone formation in the adjacent Andes cordillera and to create a persistent plume of ozone of more than 50 ppb (parts per billion), extending along 80 km horizontally and 1.5 km vertically, and located slightly north of Santiago, several hundred meters above the ground. This work constitutes the first description of the mechanism underlying the latter phenomenon. Emissions of precursors from the capital city also affect daily maxima of surface ozone hundreds of kilometers away. In parallel, cutting emissions of precursors in the Santiago basin results in an increase in surface ozone mixing ratios in its western area.
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Submitted on : Thursday, July 28, 2022 - 2:31:54 PM
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Rémy Lapere, Laurent Menut, Sylvain Mailler, Nicolás Huneeus. Seasonal variation in atmospheric pollutants transport in central Chile: dynamics and consequences. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, European Geosciences Union, 2021, 21, pp.6431-6454. ⟨10.5194/acp-21-6431-2021⟩. ⟨insu-03726955⟩

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