ARL News

Las Vegas Urban Test Bed Getting Under Way


May 25, 2005

Urban test beds are a popular topic for discussion, with several linkages to NOAA programs – heat wave and cold spell prediction; air quality forecasting; dispersion; and multi-media consequences of deposition to name a few.

In Las Vegas, the interest relates primarily to the air quality and dispersion aspects of the overall problem. Researchers from the Cooperative Institute for Atmospheric Sciences and Terrestrial Applications (CIASTA) and the Air Resource Laboratory’s Special Operations and Research Division are currently collaborating in a study of occurrences of high ozone levels in the Las Vegas Valley. Parts of Clark County Nevada in and near the Las Vegas metropolitan area have been designated by the USEPA as being not in attainment of the Federal 8-hour ozone standard. The study has obvious relevance to air quality forecasting, and to the need to extend forecasts to where people live and work.

ARL operates a research mesonet that extends into the Las Vegas valley from the Nevada Test Site. This will provide the detailed surface meteorology required by the ozone program, as well as the basic driving information for localized dispersion models.

The study, funded by Clark County and the USEPA, is being conducted from May through August 2005 and has several key components:

  1. Deployment of additional ozone monitors in and near the documented high concentration area to better define the location of maximum ozone concentration;
  2. Deployment of additional ozone monitors south and southwest of Las Vegas to document transport of ozone from outside the non-attainment area;
  3. Measurement of volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen (key components in formation of ozone) at upwind, central city, and downwind (high concentration) sites;
  4. Measurements of winds aloft using a radar wind profiler (RWP) and SODARs at 4 locations, and radiosonde and pibal releases at other locations of interest to document slope flows, return flows aloft, etc.
  5. Processing of NEXRAD weather radar data to obtain winds aloft at additional locations surrounding the study area.

Results of the study will be used to provide input to air quality models for ozone and will also be used to formulate conceptual models of the relationships between local and transported air pollution and meteorology on ozone concentration patterns in southern Nevada.

Contact information: Bruce B. Hicks
Phone: (301) 713-0684