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Urban NO2 and NO pollution in relation to the North Atlantic Oscillation NAO

Journal article
Authors Maria Grundström
Hans W. Linderholm
Jenny Klingberg
Håkan Pleijel
Published in Atmospheric Environment
Volume 45
Issue 4
Pages 883-888
ISSN 1352-2310
Publication year 2011
Published at Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences
Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 883-888
Language en
Keywords North Atlantic Oscillation, NO2, NOx, Urban pollution, Climate, Gothenburg
Subject categories Climate Research


The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), a measure of the strength of the zonal wind across the North Atlantic Ocean, strongly influences weather conditions in NW Europe, e.g. temperature, precipitation and wind, especially during winter. It was hypothesised that elevated concentrations of nitrogen oxides in Gothenburg would be enhanced during negative NAO index (NAOI) conditions, representing more anticyclonic weather situations and thus leading to limited air mixing in the urban atmosphere, than situations with NAOI > 0. Hourly wintertime (DecembereFebruary) concentrations (1997e2006) of NO2, NO, air pressure, temperature and wind direction from an urban rooftop (30mabove street level) in the centre of the City of Gothenburg were analysed in relation to NAOI. Air pressure, the average concentration of nitrogen oxides (NOx ¼ NO2 þ NO), as well as the fraction of hourly NO2 and NO concentrations exceeding 90 mg m_3 and the fraction of daily NO concentrations exceeding 60 mg m_3, were significantly and negatively related to NAOI. Air temperature was positively correlated with NAOI. Southerly and westerly winds were more common in months with positive NAOI, while easterly and northerly winds were overrepresented in months with negative NAOI. High pollution concentrations dominantly occurred in situations with northerly and easterly wind directions. High NO2 and NO concentrations were associated with negative NAOI, especially in the morning when the traffic rush coincided with restricted air mixing. Over the tenyear period there were trends for more negative NAOI and increased time fractions with hourly NO2 concentrations exceeding 90 mgm_3. The conclusion of this study is that a climate shift towards higher or lower NAOI has the potential to significantly influence urban air pollution in North-West Europe, and thus the possibility to reach air quality standards, even if emissions remain constant.

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