Identifying a Sea Breeze Circulation Pattern Over the Los Angeles Basin Using Airborne In Situ Carbon Dioxide Measurements
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
The Los Angeles Basin in Southern California is an optimal location for a circulation study, due to its location between the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Santa Monica and San Gabriel mountain ranges to the east, as well as its booming metropolitan population. Sea breeze circulation carries air at low altitudes from coastal to inland regions, where the air rises and expands before returning back towards the coast at higher altitudes. As a result, relatively clean air is expected at low altitudes over coastal regions, but following the path of sea breeze circulation should increase the amount of anthropogenic influence. During the 2014 NASA Student Airborne Research Program, a highly modified DC-8 aircraft completed flights from June 23 to 25 in and around the LA Basin, including missed approaches at four local airports—Los Alamitos and Long Beach (coastal), Ontario and Riverside (inland). Because carbon dioxide (CO2) is chemically inert and well-suited as a conserved atmospheric tracer, the NASA Langley Atmospheric Vertical Observations of CO2 in the Earth’s Troposphere (AVOCET) instrument was used to make airborne in situ carbon dioxide measurements. Combining measured wind speed and direction data from the aircraft with CO2 data shows that carbon dioxide can be used to trace the sea breeze circulation pattern of the Los Angeles basin.