An Overview of the Uintah Basin Winter Ozone Study Intensives: 2012, 2013, and 2014
Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 10:50 AM
Ground level ozone frequently exceeds the National Ambient Air Quality Standard in the Uintah Basin in northeastern Utah during the winter season. The basin is home to some of the most intensive oil and gas production in the region, activities that have been accelerated by new technologies in that industry. High ozone episodes are coincident with the presence of snow and “cold pool” conditions during which a stable shallow boundary layer persists for periods of up to 10 days. Local emissions of NOx and VOCs build up within this layer, but the sources of radicals that initiate the photochemistry have been unclear since low photolysis rates and water vapor make the traditional channel, ozone photolysis, quite inefficient. Intensive studies over the past 3 winter seasons have shown that unconventional radical sources; primarily carbonyls, and to a lesser extent nitryl chloride and nitrous acid, are responsible for radical production in this environment. The role of snow cover is to restrict vertical mixing, enhance photolysis rates through increased albedo, and reduce ozone deposition. The uptake and production of photo-labile species on the snow surface were observed, but appear to have only minor influences on the ozone photochemistry.