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Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Fifteen-year aerosol optical depth climatology for Salt Lake City


  • Joseph Michalsky,

    Corresponding author
    1. Earth System Research Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, Colorado, USA
    • Corresponding author: J. Michalsky, Earth System Research Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 325 Broadway R/GMD, Boulder, CO 80305, USA. (

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  • Brock LeBaron

    1. Department of Environmental Quality, State of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
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[1] Aerosol optical depth (AOD) and its wavelength dependence have been measured for the past 15 years in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area using a multifilter rotating shadowband radiometer. The instrument has not experienced a major hardware failure. It has been continuously field calibrated for extraterrestrial responses in its five aerosol channels. The instrument's cosine response was measured in 1996 and again in 2012. In our analysis of this 15 year data set, linear interpolation of these two cosine responses was used to approximate the angular response between the two characterizations. The Salt Lake City aerosol burden increased through the mid-2000s, but has dropped to its lowest level of the record since that time despite a population increase of approximately 25%. Annually, the aerosol burden is highest in midspring and midsummer with relatively coarse aerosols during the spring peak and fine aerosols during the summer peak. There is no indication of a diurnal cycle in AOD. There is a significant, but low, correlation between PM2.5 and 500 nm AOD, and a slightly lower correlation between PM10 and 500 nm AOD. The correlations between the surface-based measurements and total column AOD explain only 13% and 9% of the variance, respectively. Measurements are continuing to track future trends.

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