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The Correlation of Mercury, Ions, and Weather Conditions at PA-47


by Ashley Orehek and Andrew Yarosh


Research conducted in the 1970s found that the emissions of SO2 and NOx proved to be a widespread problem through the formation of acid rain. In 2002, PA-47 was established to close an NTN/MDN measurement gap in south-central Pennsylvania, and sample collection conducted by Millersville University (MU) meteorology students has continued uninterrupted ever since. PA-47 is located approximately three kilometers from the MU Weather Information Center where a full suite of meteorological variables are recorded and archived. This research uses ion/Hg analyses and meteorological data from 2004 through 2013 to understand the correlation between the variability observed in the NADP record and the weather conditions that could have contributed to the variability. This period corresponds to the availability of trajectory analyses using the HYSPILT – Hybrid Single Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory Mode, which will be employed in this study. Anomalies were found as deviations from the mean concentrations of mercury, sulfate, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, ammonium, and chlorine. This resulted in the isolation of those weeks that exhibited anomalies that were one and two standard deviations outside the mean. The meteorological conditions were found for the anomalies and categorized according to wind direction and time of year, and HYSPLIT was used to obtain back trajectories to determine source regions for this air. Results suggest that weather conditions are well correlated with variability in the weekly ion and mercury data. Our preliminary data show that highest concentrations are found when the wind direction is from the southwest in the summer seasons and in moderate precipitation events that occur after an extended period of dry conditions.

About the Author

Ashley and Andrew are both senior meteorology majors. Both are minoring in Environmental Hazards and Emergency Management (EHEM) while Ashley is also minoring in Mathematics. Ashley joined the NADP team in spring of 2014 and is the Alternate/Back-up Site Operator for the 2015-16 school year. She will continue with the program through her final semester this fall as Site Operator. Andrew was selected and trained as a collector for PA-47 during the spring of 2013 and is currently the Site Operator for the 2015-16 school year.

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