Members of the N.C. A&T Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Group are working with researchers from 14 other institutions this winter to investigate the little-known dynamics of wintertime air pollution.
The project is the Wintertime INvestigation of Transport, Emissions, and Reactivity (WINTER) campaign in the Mid-Atlantic Region. It will provide detailed, aircraft-based measurements to explore how chemical processes in the atmosphere vary by season.
Pollution occurs throughout the year, but the chemistry that determines the impact of pollution in the winter has been largely unexplored. Most research has focused on warmer seasons.
In winter, for example, short-lived pollutants like sulfur dioxide dissipate more slowly, so they affect wider areas downwind from the source of the pollution. Sulfur dioxide can cause respiratory problems and can turn into acid rain.
“Levels of oxidant pollution, such as ozone, are smaller in the winter due to decreased sunlight and emissions from plants,” said Dr. Marc Fiddler, an A&T research chemist working on the project. “These conditions produce a different and much more uncertain picture of what happens to sulfur dioxide in the winter.”