Air pollution processing by radiation fogs

Pierre Herckes, Hui Chang, Taehyoung Lee, Jeffrey L. Collett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Several fog episodes occurred in California's San Joaquin Valley during winter 2000/2001. Measurements revealed the fogs to generally be less than 50 m deep, but to contain high liquid water contents (frequently exceeding 200 mg/m3) and large droplets. The composition of the fog water was dominated by ammonium (median concentration=608 μN), nitrate (304 μN), and organic carbon (6.9 ppmC), with significant contributions also from nitrite (18 μN) and sulfate (56 μN). Principal organic species included formate (median concentration=32 μN), acetate (31 μN), and formaldehyde (21 μM). High concentrations of ammonia resulted in high fog pH values, ranging between 5.8 and 8.0 at the core measurement site. At this high pH aqueous phase oxidation of dissolved sulfur dioxide and reaction of S(IV) with formaldehyde to form hydroxymethanesulfonate are both important processes. The fogs are also effective at scavenging and removal of airborne particulate matter. Deposition velocities for key solutes in the fog are typically of the order of 1-2 cm/s, much higher than deposition velocities of precursor accumulation mode aerosol particles. Variations were observed in deposition velocities for individual constituents in the order NO2->fogwater>NH 4+>TOC ∼ SO42->NO 3-. Nitrite, observed to be enriched in large fog drops, had a deposition velocity higher than the average fogwater deposition velocity, due to the increase in drop settling velocity with size. Species enriched in small fog drops (NH4+, TOC, SO42-, and NO3-) all had deposition velocities smaller than observed for fogwater. Typical boundary layer removal rates for major fog solute species were estimated to be approximately 0.5-1 μg m-3 h -1, indicating the important role regional fogs can play in reducing airborne pollutant concentrations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-75
Number of pages11
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - May 2007


  • Aerosol
  • Air pollution
  • Deposition
  • Fog

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution


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