A springtime comparison of tropospheric ozone and transport pathways on the east and west coasts of the United States



[1] We have conducted a study to determine the influence of Asian pollution plumes on free tropospheric ozone above the west coast of the United States during spring. We also explored the additional impact of North American emissions on east coast free tropospheric ozone. Long-term ozone monitoring sites in the United States are few, but we obtained ozonesonde profiles from Trinidad Head on the west coast, Huntsville, Alabama, in the southeast, and Wallops Island, Virginia, on the east coast. Additional east coast ozone profiles were measured by the MOZAIC commercial aircraft at Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia. Kilometer-averaged ozone was compared between Trinidad Head and the three east coast sites (MOZAIC, Wallops Island, and Huntsville). Only in the 0–1 km layer did the MOZAIC site have a statistically significant greater amount of ozone than Trinidad Head. Likewise only the 0–1 and 1–2 km layers had greater ozone at Wallops Island and Huntsville in comparison to Trinidad Head. While Wallops Island did show greater ozone than Trinidad Head at 6–9 km, this excess ozone was attributed to a dry air mass sampling bias. A particle dispersion model was used to determine the surface source regions for each case, and the amount of anthropogenic NOx tracer that would have been emitted into each air mass. Transport times were limited to 20 days to focus on the impact of direct transport of pollution plumes from the atmospheric boundary layer. As expected, the amount of NOx tracer emitted into the east coast profiles was much greater in the lower and mid troposphere than at the west coast. At various altitudes at both coasts there existed a significant positive correlation between ozone and the NOx tracer, but the explained variance was generally less than 30%. On the east coast, Wallops Island had the weakest relationship between ozone and the NOx tracer, while Huntsville had the strongest. During spring, differences in photochemistry and transport pathways in the lowest 2 km of the troposphere results in an extra 5–14 ppbv of ozone on the east coast in comparison to Trinidad Head. However, despite differing amounts of NOx tracer from Asia and North America in the free troposphere, we found no significant difference in free tropospheric ozone between the east and west coasts of the United States during spring.