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Ozone Levels in the North and South of Jordan: Effects of Transboundary Air Pollution
AuthorAlsawair, Jihad K.
AdvisorGertler, Alan W.
Natural Resources and Environmental Science
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There is extensive literature showing that the long range transport of ozone (O3) and its precursors impact regions far away from source regions. Since air pollution does not recognize borders, impacted regions could be within the same political territory as well as beyond its borders. In some areas of the world, rural areas, such as northern Jordan, were found to have high ambient O3 levels that exceed air quality standards. In order to better understand the contribution of long range transport of O3 and its precursors to the East Mediterranean region and Jordan as compared to levels caused by local sources, the research presented in this dissertation was undertaken. The research within this context was driven by the potential health impacts caused by pollutant transport, and accordingly proposes mitigation measures and technical tools for decision makers. Results from a previous USAID sponsored Israeli/Palestinian/US study indicated that emissions from the highly populated and industrialized East Mediterranean coast are transported inland and lead to elevated levels of O3 over Jordan. In order to determine the magnitude and extent of this transboundary transport of pollutants, follow-on studies involving Jordanian, Israeli, and US scientists were undertaken. The first phase of this work sought to assess the causes of air quality deterioration in the south of the region over the Red Sea near the resort areas of Eilat and Aqaba. Accordingly, a coordinated Jordanian-Israeli study was performed during the month of November 2007 along the boarder of the two countries. The Jordanian measurements were made at a fixed monitoring location in the city of Aqaba, while the Israeli measurements were made using a mobile laboratory at kibbutz Eilot some 3 km north of the coastal city of Eilat. The results indicated that pollution episodes are highly dependent on wind direction, where southerly winds carry local transportation (i.e., ship, trucks) and possibly some industrial emissions towards the north end of the Red Sea, while northerly winds are associated with the transport of regional O3. The results revealed that under the prevailing (~90% of the time) northerly wind flows, the quality of the air is relatively good for all primary pollutants but O3 was elevated, indicative of the downwind regional transport of this secondary species from the Mediterranean coast. However, during days with southerly air flow the air quality was significantly deteriorated with elevated levels of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). The second phase of this work, which also involved Jordanian and Israeli scientists, was undertaken in the northern part of the region for a two-week period in May/June 2009. This part of the research was aimed at examining previous modeling results that indicated that elevated O3 levels should occur in Northern Jordan from emissions in Northern Israel that are transported a distance of more than 100 km. Ozone and other pollutants were monitored at five sites in Israel (Haifa, Neve Shanan, Kiryat Tivon, Afula, and Maoz Haim) and two in Jordan (Taiba and Irbid). The sites were located along the prevailing wind direction that presumably moves air-masses eastward from the Mediterranean coast, over the Israel Valley toward the Jordan Valley, and then into Northern Jordan. Results confirmed the previous modeling results, suggesting that peak O3 values are observed at later hours as a function of distance from the Mediterranean coast and that maximum O3 levels are found over northern Jordan. Based on the findings of the first phase that showed elevated O3 and NOx levels over the Gulf of Aqaba, more investigation was required to assess air quality in the city of Aqaba. Accordingly, long term air quality monitoring study conducted by Jordanian scientists was undertaken during the years 2008-2009. The study was conducted using a fixed air quality station located in the city. Results of this study indicated that topography of the city, with mountains surrounding the city from the east, played a major role in the air masses recirculation and hence the transport of primary pollutants, including NOx from the southern industrial area and the transportation emissions into the northern part of the city. However, high O3 episodes were found to be associated with northern wind in the absence of air masses recirculation indicating the role of long range transport in causing these elevated levels. Thus, based on the results of these studies and in order to reduce the potential health impacts of O3 and its precursors in downwind areas, strategies to control these pollutants should be developed. These strategies should be based on better energy, traffic and industrial management since these are the three main pollution sources. The strategies should include more efficient use of raw materials and energy, better combustion and production technologies that utilize less fuel and emit less pollutant. Measures should include controlling precursors’ emissions at the sources located along the east Mediterranean coast, mainly power generation facilities, oil refineries, ports activities, and traffic. In addition, local emissions in the region such as emissions in the Gulf of Aqaba should be reduced by adopting strategies that include the use of cleaner fuel (industry, ships, and vehicles), enforcing the national emission standards, and the use of air pollution control devices. Such strategies would not be accomplished without a regional and continental cooperation.