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Advances in Meteorology
Volume 2012, Article ID 427078, 16 pages
Research Article

Potential Impacts of the Introduction of Low-Sulfur Fuel on P M 𝟐 . 𝟓 Concentrations at Breathing Level in a Subarctic City

1Department of Atmospheric Sciences, College of Natural Science and Mathematics and Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 903 Koyukuk Drive, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA
2NOAA/Earth System Research Laboratory, 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80305-3337, USA

Received 27 December 2011; Revised 6 March 2012; Accepted 11 April 2012

Academic Editor: Christer Johansson

Copyright © 2012 Ketsiri Leelasakultum et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The effects of using low-sulfur fuel for oil-heating and oil-burning facilities on the P M 2 . 5 concentrations at breathing level in an Alaska city surrounded by vast areas were examined with the Weather Research and Forecasting model coupled with chemistry packages that was modified for the subarctic. Simulations were performed in forecast mode for a cold season using the National Emission Inventory 2008 and alternatively emissions that represent the use of low-sulfur fuel for oil-heating and oil-burning facilities while keeping the emissions of other sources the same as in the reference simulation. The simulations suggest that introducing low-sulfur fuel would decrease the monthly mean 24 h-averaged P M 2 . 5 concentrations over the city’s P M 2 . 5 nonattainment area by 4%, 9%, 8%, 6%, 5%, and 7% in October, November, December, January, February, and March, respectively. The quarterly mean relative response factors for P M 2 . 5 of 0.96 indicate that with a design value of 44.7 μg/m3 introducing low-sulfur fuel would lead to a new design value of 42.9 μg/m3 that still exceeds the US National Ambient Air Quality Standard of 35 μg/m3. The magnitude of the relation between the relative response of sulfate and nitrate changes differs with temperature. The simulations suggest that, in the city, P M 2 . 5 concentrations would decrease stronger on days with low atmospheric boundary layer heights, low hydrometeor mixing ratio, low downward shortwave radiation, and low temperatures.