Researchers are studying a weather phenomenon that can trap pollutants in urban mountain valleys in the hope of creating better forecasting methods and lessening the impact of the pollution on cities. At least sixty researchers from 14 agencies are studying temperature inversions, which can plague cities such as Denver and Los Angeles with smog. The month-long project is part of a US $12 million, four-year study funded by the US Energy Department.
"We want to know where does it goes and it dissipates," says Chris Doran, the project's lead scientist. He said understanding how pollutant-trapping inversions form and break up, can lead to improvements in everything from air quality to aircraft operation. For example, a computer model could determine when fog will occur and then could warn pilots about the correct time of landing. Salt Lake is a perfect test site because of its topography and weather patterns.
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