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Measuring Marine Boundary Layers in an Urban Shipping Environment

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    Aldona Wiacek Saint Mary's University

Closely monitoring changes in coastal and background marine atmospheric environments in Atlantic Canada and into pristine areas of the Arctic.

As economic growth and the shipping industry expands in Atlantic Canada and into pristine areas of the Arctic, it is important to closely monitor changes in coastal and background marine atmospheric environments.

For this purpose, continuous and automatic measurements of marine atmospheric boundary layer composition are being initiated and optimized in Halifax as part of this project.  A wide variety of trace gas species have been measured with high frequency during both day and night using the technique of Open-Path Fourier Transform Spectroscopy.  The trace gases targeted include greenhouse gases and air pollutants such as O3, NOx and VOCs, as well as gases implicated in particle formation, like SO2, HNO3 and ammonia.  


  • Environment Canada


  • Wiacek,Aldona,Li Li, Kean Tobin, Julia Purcell, Bicheng Che. 2017, Active open-path spectroscopic Measurements of marine Atmosphere Boundary Layer Composition, Physics in Canada, Vol 73 (1), 4,

The trace gas data will be used by Environment Canada to validate and improve air quality forecasts from the GEM-MACH Air Quality forecasting model, especially in the urban shipping environment of Halifax, in the broader Atlantic coastal environment, and in data poor marine background areas.

Furthermore, longer-term connections between air quality and the morbidity and mortality of vulnerable populations will be of interest to Health Canada, while monitoring greenhouse gas and fuel sulfur emissions reductions from the shipping industry supports the regulatory activities of Transport Canada.