weather classroom

Weather Classroom: Reduced Emissions & Summer Air Quality

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Will our recent run of lower air pollution levels since shelter-at-home began in March, also mean we will see less Spare the Air Days we’ll see this Summer? 

We asked that question to Charley Knoderer, Certified Consulting Meteorologist with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District who says the answer will most likely be “no,” as weather patterns such as strong, persistent high pressure will be the key driver in whether or not we see the typical number of Spare the Air alerts.

Strong high pressure and light wind can allow pollution levels to increase, Knoderer explained. Even with the reduction in emissions that include -30% carbon dioxide (CO2), -25% particulate matter pollution aka smoke (PM 2.5) and up to -45% for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) Knoderer says current expectations are we’ll see roughly the same number of Spare the Air days as a typical summer.

“We do expect to see the normal amount of ozone exceedances for this Summer in particular we still have enough emissions from cars and from industry to essentially give us enough ozone pollution to when we get to the hotter days. When we have high pressure with light winds and hot inland temperatures those are the days we’re most concerned about,” Knoderer said.

For more localized air quality data, the BAAQMD website allows for location based hourly pollution data for a variety of emissions including ground level ozone, NO2, CO2 and particulate matter pollution data which should be helpful during wildfire smoke events.

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