Wildfire smoke influence on Whiteface Mountain, New York

The study, in its interesting retrospective, once again shows how human influence affects ecosystems

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Wildfire smoke influence on Whiteface Mountain, New York

Wildfire Smoke Influence on Cloud Water Chemical Composition at Whiteface Mountain, New York, is a new study published in the Journal of geophysical research. Atmospheres. The study, in its interesting retrospective, once again shows how human influence affects ecosystems.

Whiteface was part of the post-World War II growth in recreational skiing attributed to the efforts of returning veterans of the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division. It is a major ski area, run by the Olympic Regional Development Authority.

Known for its big-mountain skiing, Whiteface is consistently ranked as one of the top ski resorts in the Northeast. It was a prime venue of the 1980 Winter Olympics, hosting all six of the alpine ski events.

Wildfire smoke influence on Whiteface Mountain, New York

The researchers explain: "Wildfires significantly impact air quality and climate, including through the production of aerosols that can nucleate cloud droplets and participate in aqueous-phase reactions.

Cloud water was collected during the summer months (June-September) of 2010-2017 at Whiteface Mountain, New York and examined for biomass burning influence. Cloud water samples were classified by their smoke influence based on backward air mass trajectories and satellite-detected smoke.A total of 1,338 cloud water samples collected over 485 days were classified by their probability of smoke influence, with 49% of these days categorized as having moderate to high probability of smoke influence.

Carbon monoxide and ozone levels were enhanced during smoke influenced days at the summit of Whiteface Mountain.Smoke-influenced cloud water samples were characterized by enhanced concentrations of potassium, sulfate, ammonium, and total organic carbon, compared to samples lacking identified influence.

Five cloud water samples were examined further for the presence of dissolved organic compounds, insoluble particles, and light-absorbing components. The five selected cloud water samples contained the biomass burning tracer levoglucosan at 0.02-0.09 μM.

Samples influenced by air masses that remained aloft, above the boundary layer during transport, had lower insoluble particle concentrations, larger insoluble particle diameters, and larger oxalate:sulfate ratios, suggesting cloud processing had occurred.

These findings highlight the influence that local and long-range transported smoke have on cloud water composition."