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Faculty Mentor

Dr. Chris Brehme

Subject Area

Environmental Studies, Geography

Abstract

This study aims to identify the characteristics of air inversions and Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM2.5) in the city of Keene, New Hampshire. PM2.5 is a type of particulate pollutant with a diameter of less than 2.5 microns that exists naturally, and can be created through industrial processed and the combustion of biomass. The combustion of wood as a home heating fuel is considered the main source of PM2.5 in Keene. Meteorological factors were investigated by searching through quality assured meteorological record provided by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. Wintertime temperature inversions are of particular concern as they trap pollutants near the ground, creating high concentrations of PM2.5.This is particularly true for Keene, which is in a glacial valley. This study concluded that air inversions and high PM2.5 event are most likely to occur on cold, clear, windless nights during the winter. The temperature must drop at least 11 degrees Fahrenheit, with a dew point close to the ambient temperature. The other objective of the study was to create a model that would predict the areas that will experience high PM2.5 concentrations as the result of demographic and topographical factors. The model was built using Digital Elevation Models, and building footprints provided by the University of New Hampshire Database. Housing density was calculated using the building footprints layer, and combined with areas that have less than three degrees of slope. This was compared to mobile monitoring data collected during the timeframe of the study.

Keywords

GIS, PM 2.5, temperature inversions, woodsmoke, air quality

Copyright statement

© 2014 Spendley & Brehme

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