Scientists to Study Cold Air Inversions

SALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 2 (UPI) — Three U.S. research groups say they are starting a $1.3 million study of winter weather temperature inversions.

At times this winter the greater Salt Lake City area has harbored the most polluted air in the United States from such inversions, said Professor John Horel of the University of Utah, one of the study’s principal investigators.

The three-year study, involving the University of Utah; the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.; and Michigan State University is designed to better understand the conditions that contribute to the development, maintenance and breakup of such weather conditions, Horel said.

The research will be funded by the National Science Foundation, with roughly $550,000 going to the University of Utah; another $550,000 to the National Center for Atmospheric Research and $250,000 to Michigan State University.

The researchers said the money will support collecting observations, analyzing the data and using models of the atmosphere to simulate the temperature and wind patterns during cold-air-pool events in the Salt Lake Valley.

“The formation, maintenance and breakup of these cold-air pools are a challenge to simulate well because the winds are light, and subtle variations are found in temperature and moisture spatially within the valley as well as vertically,” said Michigan State Associate Professor Sharon Zhong, another study principal investigator.

David Whiteman, a University of Utah research professor, is the study’s third principal investigator.

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