Sources of Poor Air Quality in the Northern Colorado Front Range

Detlev Helmig

Detlev Helmig

Boulder A.I.R.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021
11:00 am Mountain Time
webinar only


The Northern Colorado Front Range (NCFR) has been regularly exceeding the ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for more than twenty years despite reductions in emissions of ozone precursors from the major emissions sectors, including power plants and mobile sources. In 2020, there were twenty NAAQS exceedance days recorded. Elevated ozone concentrations typically occur during the summer months when solar insolation is highest. However, in 2021, the earliest exceedances were recorded in March, setting a new record for early season ozone pollution in the NCFR. In recognition of the need to better understand and mitigate causes of air pollution in the NCFR, a regional air monitoring network has been implemented in Boulder and Broomfield County by these local communities. Observations from the current five stations have shed new insights into the distribution of air pollution and contributing sources in the region. Highlights from the 4+ years of data will be presented, with particular emphasis on winter photochemical ozone events, wildfire smoke occurrences, and the influence of oil and natural gas emissions on air quality in the NCFR.

Dr. Detlev Helmig is the founder and head of Boulder Atmosphere Innovation Research (A.I.R.). He received his PhD in Chemistry from the University of Duisburg, Germany. He did his postdoctoral work at the Statewide Air Pollution Research Center at the University of California, Riverside. He then held research scientist positions at NCAR and then CIRES. In 2001, he joined the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at the University of Colorado Boulder, and in 2003 became an associate research professor there. In 2018, he founded Boulder A.I.R., which provides extensive air quality monitoring programs in the Colorado Front Range. He is a member of the IPCC and the World Meteorological Organization Global Atmospheric Watch scientific advisory group.

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