Impact of Regional Meteorology on Ozone Levels in the Lake Tahoe Basin

Sandra Rayne, Alan Gertler, Barbara Zielinska, Andrzej Bytnerowicz, Joel Burley, Michael Kaplan

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The Lake Tahoe Basin is located on the California-Nevada border and occasionally experiences elevated levels of ozone (O3) exceeding the California Air Resources Board ambient air quality standard (8-h average). Previous studies indicate that both the local generation and long-range transport from out-of-basin sources are important in contributing to O3 exceedances, but little is known about the impact of regional meteorology on O3 source regions. To develop a better understanding of the factors affecting O3 levels and sources in the Lake Tahoe Basin, a comprehensive field study was performed in the summer of 2010. Included in this effort was a meteorological analysis addressing potential regional meteorological influences leading to periods of elevated levels of O3. Three approaches were used to conduct the analysis: (1) regional atmospheric pressure difference (i.e., the Washoe Zephyr) to access potential transport, (2) back trajectory modeling using the Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory (HYSPLIT) model to determine where the air masses originated and, (3) composite soundings to evaluate in-Basin atmospheric influences. These analyses indicate the Washoe Zephyr did not strongly impact O3 levels; however, higher O3 levels were found to correspond with both a more southerly wind component and a dip in dew point temperature around 400 hPa. The results also indicate that if transport does occur, it is more likely to come from the San Joaquin Valley and move to the southern part of the Basin, rather than originating in the large cities to the west (i.e., Sacramento and San Francisco).

Original languageAmerican English
JournalMeteorology and Atmospheric Physics
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Atmospheric Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Meteorology

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