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Publications - Occasional Papers

Modeling Air Pollution Potential for Mountain Resorts

INSTAAR Occasional Paper 32

1979, 96 pp. (cost: $5)

[From the Preface] Increasing use of mountainous areas of the western United States for recreation and mining places great stress on all parts of the montane environment. One aspect of this environment which has received relatively little attention in the past has been the quality of mountain air — once assumed to be pristine but now, in many places, in danger from the wood-burning fires of ski resort condominiums and dust from the machines of the strip miner.

This study provides a contribution to the field of air quality maintenance in complex terrain with emphasis on the single valley case. Such sites are where vacation resorts are often located. A review of basic approaches to estimating atmospheric dispersal and subsequently air quality in complex terrain shows the box model to be useful in many cases. Its applicability would be extended if the upper limit of the 'box' could be found without making actual observations. Thus attempts are made to determine the location of the lid in the absence of on-site data. Long term National Weather Service Rawinsonde data give interesting results but none that can be used operationally. Little success is met in seeking spatial relations in short term inversion data. The most profitable approach seems to be in the use of a theoretical model of inversion rise dynamics. A box model of atmospheric dispersion is utilized in a) a standard form, b) with modeled mixing heights and c) with a tilted inversion lid. The latter does not significantly improve the performance of the basic model. However, there is evidence to suggest the flexibility of using modeled mixing height data with the box model. An interesting lag effect is noted for the model. Finally, some practical aspects with regard to air pollution potential and the land use manager are discussed.

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