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We examined windblown dust within the Imperial Valley (CA) during strong springtime west-southwesterly (WSW) wind events. Analysis of routine agency meteorological and ambient particulate matter (PM) measurements identified 165 high WSW wind events between March and June 2013 to 2019. The PM concentrations over these days are higher at northern valley monitoring sites, with daily PM mass concentration of particles less than 10 micrometers aerodynamic diameter (PM10) at these sites commonly greater than 100 μg/m3 and reaching around 400 μg/m3, and daily PM mass concentration of particles less than 2.5 micrometers aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5) commonly greater than 20 μg/m3 and reaching around 60 μg/m3. A detailed analysis utilizing 1 km resolution multi-angle implementation of atmospheric correction (MAIAC) aerosol optical depth (AOD), Identifying Violations Affecting Neighborhoods (IVAN) low-cost PM2.5 measurements and 500 m resolution sediment supply fields alongside routine ground PM observations identified an area of high AOD/PM during WSW events spanning the northwestern valley encompassing the Brawley/Westmorland through the Niland area. This area shows up most clearly once the average PM10 at northern valley routine sites during WSW events exceeds 100 μg/m3. The area is consistent with high soil sediment supply in the northwestern valley and upwind desert, suggesting local sources are primarily responsible. On the basis of this study, MAIAC AOD appears able to identify localized high PM areas during windblown dust events provided the PM levels are high enough. The use of the IVAN data in this study illustrates how a citizen science effort to collect more spatially refined air quality concentration data can help pinpoint episodic pollution patterns and possible sources important for PM exposure and adverse health effects.

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National Aeronautics and Space Administration


Imperial valley, IVAN, MAIAC, Particulate matter, PM10, PM2.5, Sediment supply, Windblown dust


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Meteorology and Climate Science