Atmospheric Dust Monitoring Network

Although many forms of atmospheric deposition are relatively well measured in the U.S., all forms of atmospheric dust deposition are not. There is a widely distributed network for particle monitoring called IMPROVE. The purpose of the IMPROVE network is to measure aerosol deposition in particle size ranges below 10 or 2.5 micrometers. The size cutoff corresponds to the requirements of the Clean Air Act but does not capture the larger particles present in large dust storms in the western U.S. To address this issue, the University of Colorado at Boulder, in collaboration with the USGS and other federal and local partners, is developing a monitoring network across parts of Utah and Colorado to measure and sample dust in a wide range of particle sizes.

The primary objective of our dust particle-monitoring network is to establish a geographically distributed, long-term record of total atmospheric particle loads in the Colorado and surrounding states.

TSP data download page

The particle-monitoring network comprises sites that have total suspended particle (TSP) collectors made by Staplex Equipment. These collectors consist of a brushless motor, digital flowmeter, and filtration system for capture of total suspended particulates in the atmosphere. The TSP collectors are run continuously and sampled on a two-week interval (or more frequently if desired) year around. Several sites are co-located with IMPROVE samplers and other meteorological equipment, and we are developing web-camera capabilities for some sites. Locations of TSP samplers are shown in figure 1.

Figure 1
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Site Descriptions:

Canyonlands National Park, Utah:
The Canyonlands ISKY site is located in the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park. The site is run with the assistance of the National Park Service, Canyonlands National Park Staff, the USGS Canyonlands Field Station in Moab, and the USGS in Denver. The site is co-located with an IMPROVE network sampler. The site has been in operation since June, 2008.

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado: The Mesa Verde site is located within Mesa Verde National Park. The site is run with the assistance of the National Park Service, Mesa Verde National Park Staff, and the USGS in Denver. The site is collocated with an IMPROVE network sampler. The site has been in operation since January, 2011. A web camera, installed near the site in March 2011, is pointed to the southwest in the direction of major dust sources in northeastern Arizona.

Niwot Ridge, Front Range, Colorado: The Niwot Ridge site is located at the Niwot Ridge Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Site in the mountains west of Boulder, CO. The site is run with the support of LTER personnel supported by the National Science Foundation. The site is co-located with an NADP collector. The site has been in operation since September, 2010

Shortgrass Steppe, Colorado: The SGS LTER site is located on the Shortgrass Steppe Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Site in the northeastern plains of Colorado. The site is run with the support of LTER personnel supported by the National Science Foundation. The site is co-located with an NADP collector and radiometer. The site has been in operation since December, 2010.

Telluride, Colorado: The Telluride site is located within the limits of the Telluride Ski Area. The site is run by the San Miguel Department of Public Health in collaboration with the Tellski Corporation. The site has been in operation since April, 2011.

Methodology:

Filter samples of total suspended particulates (TSP) are collected on approximately two-week intervals. The filters are shipped overnight to the Environmental Biogeochemistry Laboratory at the University of Colorado at Boulder. At CU Boulder, the filters are weighed in a controlled humidity and temperature environment for estimates of particle mass per volume sample of air. All filters are then archived for future analysis.

Chemical Analyses:

Particle mass is tracked for all samples, but chemical analyses are done selectively on a project by project basis. Some examples of prior work on dust chemistry includes major and select minor elements using Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectroscopy (ICP-MS) following digestion of samples. Samples are also periodically analyzed for organic C and N and a subset of samples are evaluated for organic chemistry of the dust using pyrolysis-gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy (py-GC/MS). Investigators interested in chemical analysis of filters should contact Jason Neff at CU Boulder (neffjc@colorado.edu) for information on access and availability. In many cases, additional contacts with collaborating partners and scientists will also be required. Link to data

Data Access:

All particle mass data from the TSP monitoring network are updated monthly. The data are available for download using the query (to be added to the website) below. Data are updated on an approximately monthly basis from January 2011 to the present. The data on this website are considered provisional data and users are asked to review the data use policy and contact project personnel prior to use of these data in publications or presentations.

Data-Use Policy:

These data are made freely available to the public and the scientific community. The availability of these data does not constitute publication of the data. If the data are obtained for potential use in a publication or presentation, the primary researchers on this project should be informed in advance. If these data are essential to the work, or if an important result or conclusion depends on the TSP network data, co-authorship may be appropriate. Manuscripts and analysis that uses these data should be sent to project personnel for review before they are submitted for publication so we can ensure that the quality and limitations of the data are accurately represented.

Primary Contact for Data Use: Jason Neff, Associate Professor, CU Boulder, neffjc@colorado.edu.

Site specific contacts for data use:

Canyonlands National Park: Jason Neff, Associate Professor, CU Boulder, neffjc@colorado.edu.

Mesa Verde National Park: Jason Neff, Associate Professor, CU Boulder, neffjc@colorado.edu.

Niwot Ridge LTER: Jason Neff, Associate Professor, CU Boulder, neffjc@colorado.edu.

Shortgrass Steppe LTER: Seth Munson, USGS - Southwest Biological Science Center
mailto:smunson@usgs.gov

Telluride: Dave Schneck, San Miguel County Department of Health and Environment, mailto:daves@sanmiguelcounty.org