Measurement and analysis of ambient atmospheric particulate matter in urban and remote environments
Hagler, Gayle S. W.
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Atmospheric particulate matter pollution is a challenging environmental concern in both urban and remote locations worldwide. It is intrinsically difficult to control, given numerous anthropogenic and natural sources (e.g. fossil fuel combustion, biomass burning, dust, and seaspray) and atmospheric transport up to thousands of kilometers after production. In urban regions, fine particulate matter (particles with diameters under 2.5 m) is of special concern for its ability to penetrate the human respiratory system and threaten cardiopulmonary health. A second major impact area is climate, with particulate matter altering Earth s radiative balance through scattering and absorbing solar radiation, modifying cloud properties, and reducing surface reflectivity after deposition in snow-covered regions. While atmospheric particulate matter has been generally well-characterized in populated areas of developed countries, particulate pollution in developing nations and remote regions is relatively unexplored. This thesis characterizes atmospheric particulate matter in locations that represent the extreme ends of the spectrum in terms of air pollution the rapidly-developing and heavily populated Pearl River Delta Region of China, the pristine and climate-sensitive Greenland Ice Sheet, and a remote site in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. In China, fine particles were studied through a year-long field campaign at seven sites surrounding the Pearl River Delta. Fine particulate matter was analyzed for chemical composition, regional variation, and meteorological impacts. On the Greenland Ice Sheet and in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the carbonaceous fraction (organic and elemental carbon) of particulate matter was studied in the atmosphere and snow pack. Analyses included quantifying particulate chemical and optical properties, assessing atmospheric transport, and evaluating post-depositional processing of carbonaceous species in snow.