Atmospheric Turbidity over Central North Carolina

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  • a Air Resources Laboratories, NOAA, Boulder, CO 80303
  • | b Institute of Atmospheric Physics, National Meteorological Service, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • | c Air Resources Laboratories, NOAA, Boulder, CO 80303
  • | d Meteorology and Assessment Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711
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Abstract

Some 8500 observations of atmospheric turbidity, taken at Raleigh, North Carolina from July 1969 to July 1975 are analyzed for within-day and day-to-day variations and their dependence on meteorological parameters. The annual average turbidity of 0.147 (0.336 aerosol optical thickness) is near the highest non-urban turbidity in the United States. A distinct diurnal turbidity cycle was evident with a maximum in early afternoon. Annually, highest turbidity and day-to-day variation occurred during summer with lowest values and variation during winter. Daily averages revealed an asymmetric annual cycle, with a minimum on 1 January and a maximum on 1 August. Turbidity showed a slight inverse dependence on surface wind speed. Aside from winter, highest turbidities occurred with southeast surface winds. Turbidity was directly proportional to both humidity and dew point. Correlations between turbidity and local visibility were best for visibilities <7 mi. Air mass trajectories arriving at Raleigh were used to study the dependence of turbidity on synoptic air mass. Air masses with a southern origin had greatest turbidities. Turbidity of an air mass significantly increased as the residence time of that air mass over the continental United States increased, with the most rapid changes during summer. A combination of Raleigh (1969–present) and Greensboro, North Carolina (1965–76) records showed a distinct summer increase through 1976, but no change during winter. A linear regression of annual averages for the complete record gave an 18% per decade turbidity increase.

Abstract

Some 8500 observations of atmospheric turbidity, taken at Raleigh, North Carolina from July 1969 to July 1975 are analyzed for within-day and day-to-day variations and their dependence on meteorological parameters. The annual average turbidity of 0.147 (0.336 aerosol optical thickness) is near the highest non-urban turbidity in the United States. A distinct diurnal turbidity cycle was evident with a maximum in early afternoon. Annually, highest turbidity and day-to-day variation occurred during summer with lowest values and variation during winter. Daily averages revealed an asymmetric annual cycle, with a minimum on 1 January and a maximum on 1 August. Turbidity showed a slight inverse dependence on surface wind speed. Aside from winter, highest turbidities occurred with southeast surface winds. Turbidity was directly proportional to both humidity and dew point. Correlations between turbidity and local visibility were best for visibilities <7 mi. Air mass trajectories arriving at Raleigh were used to study the dependence of turbidity on synoptic air mass. Air masses with a southern origin had greatest turbidities. Turbidity of an air mass significantly increased as the residence time of that air mass over the continental United States increased, with the most rapid changes during summer. A combination of Raleigh (1969–present) and Greensboro, North Carolina (1965–76) records showed a distinct summer increase through 1976, but no change during winter. A linear regression of annual averages for the complete record gave an 18% per decade turbidity increase.

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