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Air quality at a snowmobile staging area and snow chemistry on and off trail in a Rocky Mountain subalpine forest, Snowy Range, Wyoming

Posted date: August 18, 2016
Publication Year: 
2007
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. 133: 321-334.

Abstract

A study was begun in the winter of 2000-2001 and continued through the winter of 2001-2002 to examine air quality at the Green Rock snowmobile staging area at 2,985 m elevation in the Snowy Range of Wyoming. The study was designed to evaluate the effects of winter recreation snowmobile activity on air quality at this high elevation site by measuring levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx, NO), carbon monoxide (CO), ozone (O3) and particulate matter (PM10 mass). Snowmobile numbers were higher weekends than weekdays, but numbers were difficult to quantify with an infrared sensor. Nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide were significantly higher weekends than weekdays. Ozone and particulate matter were not significantly different during the weekend compared to weekdays. Air quality data during the summer was also compared to the winter data. Carbon monoxide levels at the site were significantly higher during the winter than during the summer. Nitrogen oxides and particulates were significantly higher during the summer compared to winter. Nevertheless, air pollutants were well dispersed and diluted by strong winds common at the site, and it appears that snowmobile emissions did not have a significant impact on air quality at this high elevation ecosystem. Pollutant concentrations were generally low both winter and summer. In a separate study, water chemistry and snow density were measured from snow samples collected on and adjacent to a snowmobile trail. Snow on the trail was significantly denser and significantly more acidic with significantly higher concentrations of sodium, ammonium, calcium, magnesium, fluoride, and sulfate than in snow off the trail. Snowmobile activity had no effect on nitrate levels in snow.

Citation

Musselman, Robert C.; Korfmacher, John L. 2007. Air quality at a snowmobile staging area and snow chemistry on and off trail in a Rocky Mountain subalpine forest, Snowy Range, Wyoming. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. 133: 321-334.