3.3 Dust and Air Quality Forecasting and Monitoring in the Eastern Caribbean

Monday, 11 January 2016: 4:30 PM
Room 243 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Ashford Reyes, Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology, St. James, Barbados; and A. Sealy, R. Chewitt, and D. Farrell

Air quality has become a major issue in the Caribbean because of urban development, increased vehicle emissions and growing industrialisation. Additionally, significant amounts of dust travel across the northern tropical Atlantic to the Caribbean every year from the Sahara region. These dust concentrations in the Caribbean often exceed United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less (PM 2.5) which could have serious implications for human health in the region. However, the majority of territories in the Caribbean do not have routine air quality monitoring programmes and several do not have or enforce air quality standards for PM2.5 and PM10. As a result, the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) has taken the initiative to provide dust and air quality forecasts for the Eastern Caribbean using the advanced WRF-Chem modeling system.

The applications of the WRF-Chem modelling system at CIMH that are currently being focused on are the coupled weather prediction/dispersion model to simulate the release and transport of constituents, especially Saharan dust transport and concentration; and as a coupled weather/dispersion/air quality model with full interaction of chemical species with prediction of particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10). This will include future applications in the prediction of ozone (O3) and ultraviolet (UV) radiation as well as examining dust radiative forcing and effects on atmospheric precipitation and dynamics. Currently plans are underway to implement other dust forecasting systems as CIMH moves towards becoming the Pan-American Sand and Dust Early Warning Centre. Preliminary results from this study will be presented and compared to other dust forecast models currently used in other regions.

CIMH also houses a high volume aerosol sampler to assess the mass concentration and chemical composition of the Total Suspended Particulates (TSP) and will erect another sampler in the capital city of Bridgetown. This work also complements in situ measurements at Ragged Point, Barbados (oldest dust record since 1965), Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana and Puerto Rico. The goal of this study is to develop a health warning system for the developing countries of the Eastern Caribbean in order to mitigate against adverse health effects by persons most vulnerable.

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