Seasonal variations in the synoptic climatology of air pollution in Birmingham, UK

Edward C. Hodgson, Ian D. Phillips

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A synoptic typing approach was undertaken to examine the seasonal relationship (winter versus summer) between air mass types and pollutant concentrations of O3, PM10, NOx, NO2 and CO in Birmingham, UK, from 2000 to 2015. Daily means of seven surface meteorological variables were entered into a P-mode principal component analysis. Three principal components explained 72.2% (72.9%) of the variance in winter (summer). Cluster analysis was used to group together days with similar PC scores and thus similar meteorological conditions. Six clusters provided the best air mass classification in both seasons. High pollutant concentrations were associated with anticyclonic types. In particular, tropical (polar) continental air mass type was most likely to produce extremely high concentrations in summer (winter). In winter, a sequence of Polar Continental (cool and humid) and Binary Mid-latitude Anticyclonic Maritime—Sub-Polar Cyclonic Maritime (cold and dry) induced severe pollution episodes in all pollutants. Whilst the mean duration of severe pollution episodes varied little between winter and summer (O3 was an exception, with severe episodes lasting 20% longer in summer), high pollutant extremes were more common in winter. This was due to more favourable meteorological conditions (e.g. temperature inversions) and increased anthropogenic emissions during the cold season.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1421-1439
Number of pages19
JournalTheoretical and Applied Climatology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2021

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