Regional and local background ozone in Houston during Texas Air Quality Study 2006



[1] Principal Component Analysis (PCA) is used to isolate the common modes of behavior in the daily maximum 8-h average ozone mixing ratios measured at 30 Continuous Ambient Monitoring Stations in the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria area during the Second Texas Air Quality Study field intensive (1 August to 15 October 2006). Three principal components suffice to explain 93% of the total variance. Nearly 84% is explained by the first component, which is attributed to changes in the “regional background” determined primarily by the large-scale winds. The second component (6%) is attributed to changes in the “local background,” that is, ozone photochemically produced in the Houston area and spatially and temporally averaged by local circulations. Finally, the third component (3.5%) is attributed to short-lived plumes containing high ozone originating from industrial areas along Galveston Bay and the Houston Ship Channel. Regional background ozone concentrations derived using the first component compare well with mean ozone concentrations measured above the Gulf of Mexico by the tunable profiler for aerosols and ozone lidar aboard the NOAA Twin Otter. The PCA regional background values also agree well with background values derived using the lowest daily 8-h maximum method of Nielsen-Gammon et al. (2005), provided the Galveston Airport data (C34) are omitted from that analysis. The differences found when Galveston is included are caused by the sea breeze, which depresses ozone at Galveston relative to sites further inland. PCA removes the effects of this and other local circulations to obtain a regional background value representative of the greater Houston area.