Spatial Investigation of Columnar AOD and Near-Surface PM2.5 Concentrations During the 2013 American and Yosemite Rim Fires

Friday, 19 December 2014
Sandra Marcela Loria Salazar1, Heather Holmes2, William P Arnott2, Hans Moosmuller3, Addison Liming2 and Brian Echevarria2, (1)University of Nevada Reno, Atmospheric Sciences Program, Department of Physics, Reno, NV, United States, (2)University of Nevada Reno, Reno, NV, United States, (3)Desert Research Institute, Reno, NV, United States
The study of aerosol pollution transport and optical properties in the western U.S. is a challenge due to the complex terrain, bright surfaces, presence of anthropogenic and biogenic emissions, secondary organic aerosol formation, and smoke from wild fires. In addition, the complex terrain influences transport phenomena by recirculating mountain air from California to Nevada, where air pollution from the Sierra Nevada Mountains (SNM) is mixed with urban air from the Central Valley in California. Previous studies in Reno hypothesize that elevated aerosol concentrations aloft, above the convective boundary layer height, make air quality monitoring in Reno challenging with MODIS products. Here, we analyze data from August 2013 as a case study for wildfire smoke plumes in California and Nevada. During this time period, northern California was impacted by large wild fires known as the American and Yosemite Rim fires. Thousands of acres burned, generating large quantities of aerosol pollutants that were transported downwind. The aim of the present work is to investigate the fire plume behavior and transport phenomena using ground level PM2.5 concentrations from routine monitoring networks and aerosol optical properties from AERONET, both at multiple locations in California and Nevada. In addition, the accuracy of MODIS (Collection 6) and VIIRS aerosol satellite products will be evaluated. The multispectral photoacoustic instruments and reciprocal nephelometers located in Reno support the estimation of approximated aerosol height. The objectives are to investigate the impact of the vertical distribution of PM concentrations on satellite aerosol optical depth (AOD) retrievals; assess the ability to estimate ground level PM2.5 mass concentrations for wildfire smoke plumes from satellite remote sensing; and investigate the influence of complex terrain on the transport of pollutants, convective boundary layer depth, and aerosol optical height.