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Air Visibility in our Sierra Nevada

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Air Visibility in our Sierra Nevada

Postby SSSdave » Sun Oct 29, 2006 10:55 am

One of the major problems with photography on western slopes of the Sierra Nevada has become air polution over our great Cental Valley. Of course photography is rather low on the list of ills of air pollution to our society however it is the one I personally butt up against most regularly in my own life. Far more important to all of us are issues of health to ourselves and the environment. In my lifetime of several decades, I've personally noticed what seems to be regularly increasing dirtier air in the valley which is simply the result of growth of many more people, more vehicles, more agricultural, more industry. ...David

Here is a brief primer on this current situation:
http://www.valleyair.org/newsed/ca_prim ... /IIIA.html

These days one is unlikely to experience good alpenglow along the western peaks unless one times their visits to the mountains to the day or two following either one of our infrequent northerly fronts pushing across the state clearing out all the poluted stale air or major monsoonal flow up from the southeast that is strong enough to push into the central valley causing showers even there that clears out polutants. Many of us have been to such icon locations as Glacier Point in Yosemite or Moro Rock in Sequoia and been dismayed to experience considerable dimming of the warm red rays well before sunset that considerably decreases the resulting natural experience.

Below is a related story of the sad condition of our air as seen in our beloved mountains:
http://www.latimes.com/travel/outdoors/ ... acifictime

Fortuantely today in the internet age there are continually more resources coming on line all the time that provide information, often live, like never before. That has especially been the case for weather information with the below more narrowly relating some air quality web resources I will check. Thus when my interest is in capturing finer light, I may take a look at NWS forecast discussions, zone forecasts, satelite images, and air quality maps and forecasts.

The following contains some basics about natural light scattering and that by pollutants.
http://www.valleyair.org/newsed/ca_prim ... IIA5a.html

The below link chart that shows air quality between 10/21 and 10/27 is instructional because when I was driving home on 10/25 winds were blowing from the northwest most strongly causing lots of dust in the air. In fact it was one of the windiest days in the San Joaquin Valley all year. These sites that record the PM10 larger particulate matter showpeaks on that day indicating most of the visual polution was indeed just blowing dust.
http://www.valleyair.org/aqinfo/d-PM.htm

This map below is for smaller particles that also effect air clarity but are not so much due to dust but rather things like smoke are vehicle exaust. Notice how the windy weather on 10/25 actually reduced that polutant thus it is really only the PM10 pollutants that effected the very low air clarity that day:
http://airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=jump.jump_particle

These two web pages explain some of the polution terms like PM10:
http://airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=static.aqi
http://airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=jump.jump_particle

And this web page below is one indication the government does have people employed to work on the particle pollution problem just like the other air pollution issues:
http://www.wrapair.org/

http://www.davidsenesac.com



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Postby hikerduane » Sun Oct 29, 2006 2:47 pm

When we get some precip the Forest Circus will start burning and there goes our clear air up here in the northern Sierra. Some burning was being conducted along the road at the jct. of 36 and the road at the SW entrance to Lassen Vol. NP yesterday. The smoke was laying in the drainage there. I was headed to work at 0-dark-thirty a year ago about this time of year and the Forest Circus was doing some burning and the smoke/fog was so thick that I had to slow to 25 mph to safely see. Luckily it was only for a half mile or less. It really affects older people up here.
I had a really nice photo of Lake Tahoe from the Bay View trail dating back to the 70's but I gave it away. The air there hasn't been clear enough for another nice photo since when I have been on that trail.
Piece of cake.
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Sierra Air Pollution

Postby gdurkee » Sun Oct 29, 2006 9:35 pm

Sequoia Kings has been doing a repeat photo project from the some of the peaks for several decades. If I ever get my act together, I'll publish some of the comparison photos.

Also, check these links.

http://www.yosemite.org/naturenotes/AirRocchio1.htm
http://www.yosemite.org/naturenotes/StarryNight.htm
http://www.yosemite.org/naturenotes/AirQuality.htm (has another map of San Joaquin air circulation, though I really like the graphics at the above valleyair.com and will link to it in the above articles)

George
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Postby SSSdave » Mon Oct 30, 2006 12:37 pm

Thanks gdurkee for the links. Especially likes the big night light pollution map. Only real solution to all this is of course less people and less development. ...David
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