A quantitatively robust yet parsimonious air-quality monitoring network in mountainous regions requires special attention to relevant spatial and temporal scales of measurement and inference. The design of monitoring networks should focus on the objectives required by public agencies, namely: 1) determine if some threshold has been exceeded (e.g., for regulatory purposes), and 2) identify spatial patterns and temporal trends (e.g., to protect natural resources). A short-term, multi-scale assessment to quantify spatial variability in air quality is a valuable asset in designing a network, in conjunction with an evaluation of existing data and simulation-model output. A recent assessment in Washington state (USA) quantified spatial variability in tropospheric ozone distribution ranging from a single watershed to the western third of the state. Spatial and temporal coherence in ozone exposure modified by predictable elevational relationships ( 1.3 ppbv ozone per 100 m elevation gain) extends from urban areas to the crest of the Cascade Range. This suggests that a sparse network of permanent analyzers is sufficient at all spatial scales, with the option of periodic intensive measurements to validate network design. It is imperative that agencies cooperate in the design of monitoring networks in mountainous regions to optimize data collection and financial efficiencies.
Additional publication details
Monitoring air quality in mountains: Designing an effective network