Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Long-range transport of Asian pollution to the northeast Pacific: Seasonal variations and transport pathways of carbon monoxide



[1] Continuous CO measurements were obtained at Cheeka Peak Observatory (CPO, 48.3°N, 124.6°W, 480 m), a coastal site in Washington state, between 9 March 2001 and 31 May 2002. We analyze these observations as well as CO observations at ground sites throughout the North Pacific using the GEOS-CHEM global tropospheric chemistry model to examine the seasonal variations of Asian long-range transport. The model reproduces the observed CO levels, their seasonal cycle and day-to-day variability, with a 5–20 ppbv negative bias in winter/spring and 5–10 ppbv positive bias during summer. Asian influence on CO levels in the North Pacific troposphere maximizes during spring and minimizes during summer, ranging from 91 ppbv (44% of total CO) to 52 ppbv (39%) along the Asian Pacific Rim and from 44 ppbv (30%) to 24 ppbv (23%) at CPO. Maximum export of Asian pollution to the western Pacific occurs at 20°–50°N during spring throughout the tropospheric column, shifting to 30°–60°N during summer, mostly in the upper troposphere. The model captures five particularly strong transpacific transport events reaching CPO (four in spring, one in winter) resulting in 20–40 ppbv increases in observed CO levels. Episodic long-range transport of pollutants from Asia to the NE Pacific occurs throughout the year every 10, 15, and 30 days in the upper, middle, and lower troposphere, respectively. Lifting ahead of cold fronts followed by transport in midlatitude westerlies accounts for 78% of long-range transport events reaching the NE Pacific middle and upper troposphere. During summer, convective injection into the upper troposphere competes with frontal mechanisms in this export. Most events reaching the NE Pacific lower troposphere below 2 km altitude result from boundary layer outflow behind cold fronts (for spring) or ahead of cold fronts (for other seasons) followed by low-level transpacific transport.