Effect of Fine Particulate Matter on Gulf of Mexico Tropical Cyclones

Authors: Wenjia Cao*, , Robert Rohli, Dr.
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Coastal and Marine, Environmental Science
Keywords: Hurricane, PM2.5, WRF, Tropical cyclone
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Napoleon D1, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is known to have numerous environmental effects, but the literature is conflicting about the impacts of PM2.5 on tropical cyclone intensity, and no significant research to date has examined this relationship in the Gulf of Mexico. This research analyzes the relationship between PM2.5 and tropical cyclones of the Gulf of Mexico basin. Daily mean PM2.5 concentration values were collected from United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Tropical cyclone track and intensity data were available from Tropical Prediction Center Best Track Reanalysis in Unisys Weather®. The GRIdded Binary (GRIB-formatted) data were downloaded from the Data Support Section of the Computational and Information Systems Laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Through ArcGIS®, the tropical cyclone tracks were compared with the interpolated daily mean PM2.5 concentration value. Results suggest intensity was weakened more significantly after passing the PM2.5-rich area than after passing an area with lower PM2.5 mixing ratios. Through simulation using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, the pressure and vertical structure of Hurricane Lili were weakened after passing the most PM2.5-rich area in Louisiana. These results have important implications for tropical cyclone prediction as storms approach polluted areas or other places where PM2.5 particles are abundant, not only including urban environments but also in coastal areas where proscribed burns take place during tropical cyclone season, such as during sugarcane harvesting in southern Louisiana.

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