Anticipated Inversion and Visibility Conditions over Glacier Bay with a Changing Climate

DOI: 10.4236/jep.2015.65048   PDF   HTML   XML   4,087 Downloads   4,537 Views   Citations


A RCP4.5 simulation from the Community Earth System Model was downscaled by the Weather Research and Forecasting Model, inline coupled with chemistry, to examine how climate change may affect inversions and visibility in Glacier Bay in the presence of cruise-ship visitations. Mean downscaled climate conditions for the tourist seasons for 2006-2012 were compared with downscaled conditions for 2026-2032 with identical cruise-ship entries and operating conditions thereby isolating pollutant retention and visibility differences caused by atmospheric climate change. Notable changes in future temperature, humidity, precipitation, and wind-speed occurred for large areas of Southeast Alaska and the Gulf of Alaska, although the anticipated differences were less pronounced in Glacier Bay due to the presence of the large glaciers and ice fields. While increased sensible heat and water vapor in the atmospheric boundary layer contributed to on average 4.5 h reduced inversion duration in Glacier Bay, the on average 0.23 m·s-1 reduced wind speeds increased inversion frequency by 4% on average. The future on average wetter conditions and altered precipitation patterns in Glacier Bay affected the removal of gases and particulate matter emitted by cruise ships locally or advected from areas outside the park. Season-spatial averaged visibility in Glacier Bay remained the same. However, visibility was degraded in the future scenario later in the season and slightly improved during spring. The warmer conditions contributed to decreased visibility indirectly by tieing up less NO2 in PAN and increasing biogenic NOx emissions. The wetter conditions contributed to reduced visibility in the last third of the tourist season.

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Mölders, N. and Gende, S. (2015) Anticipated Inversion and Visibility Conditions over Glacier Bay with a Changing Climate. Journal of Environmental Protection, 6, 515-537. doi: 10.4236/jep.2015.65048.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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