Impact of Smoke Plumes Transport on Air Quality in Sydney during Extensive Bushfires (2019) in New South Wales, Australia Using Remote Sensing and Ground Data

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Remote Sensing


Smoke aerosol dispersion and transport have a significant impact on air quality levels and can be examined by environmental monitoring and modelling techniques. The purpose of this study is to determine the characteristics of the smoke aerosols and the level of air quality during November and December 2019 under the influence of extensive bushfires in the Sydney area, New South Wales (NSW), Australia. To achieve this goal, air quality and meteorological data were analysed in combination with remote sensing satellite measurements. Meteorological and air quality data were obtained from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and Environmental Protection Agency monitoring sites in NSW. In Richmond the daily maximum average hourly concentration of particulate matter (PM10) was 848.9 μg/m3 at 07:00 UTC on 26 November 2019 and 785 μg/m3 at 07:00 UTC on 12 December 2019. On 10 December 2019, the highest PM10 recorded in the Sydney region was 961.5 μg/m3 in St Marys at 01:00 UTC, while the highest PM2.5 concentration was 714.6 μg/m3 in Oakdale in southwest Sydney at 18:00 UTC. These values all decreased again to the standard level (<50 μg/m3) in a few days. The potential sources of smoke aerosols originated from bushfires to the northwest of Sydney (Blue Mountains) as well as from southwest and northwest NSW. The smoke plumes were revealed by the combined AOD values from Aqua and Terra sensors on the MODIS satellite. In each case, the smoke travelled towards the east coast of Australia and out over the Pacific Ocean. The NAAPS model displays the existence of smoke at ground level, while the CALIPSO satellite data showed that the plumes extended 14 km up into the stratosphere layer. Backward trajectories obtained from the HYSPLIT model agree well with the movement of smoke plumes observed in the MODIS satellite images.

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