Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fear and Loathing in Salt Lake (about Pollution)

Pollution over the Salt Lake Valley as viewed from above Big Cottonwood Canyon, October 23, 2013
Paraphrasing Hunter S. Thompson seems appropriate today as my fear and loathing of the wintertime inversion are on the rise.  It's October and we are already seeing pollution in the valley, as one can plainly see looking out the window or in the photo above.  October!  PM2.5 concentrations in the Salt Lake Valley are not as high as they reach during winter inversions, but they are elevated, reaching about 18 ug/m3 yesterday.

Source: DAQ
Perhaps it's just me, but it seems like we are more susceptible to events like this than we were 10–15 years ago.  We do have a big ridge in place, but perhaps emissions have reached a point where we're seeing a creep of the pollution season into earlier in the fall and later in the winter.  Events are infrequent enough to make trend detection difficult, but perhaps an adventurous reader out there can dig into the numbers and see if this hypothesis has merit.

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