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The use of trajectory cluster analysis to interpret trace gas measurements at Mace Head, Ireland

By J. N. Cape, J. Methven and L. E. Hudson


A first step in interpreting the wide variation in trace gas concentrations measured over time at a given site is to classify the data according to the prevailing weather conditions. In order to classify measurements made during two intensive field campaigns at Mace Head, on the west coast of Ireland, an objective method of assigning data to different weather types has been developed. Air-mass back trajectories calculated using winds from ECMWF analyses, arriving at the site in 1995–1997, were allocated to clusters based on a statistical analysis of the latitude, longitude and pressure of the trajectory at 12 h intervals over 5 days. The robustness of the analysis was assessed by using an ensemble of back trajectories calculated for four points around Mace Head. Separate analyses were made for each of the 3 years, and for four 3-month periods. The use of these clusters in classifying ground-based ozone measurements at Mace Head is described, including the need to exclude data which have been influenced by local perturbations to the regional flow pattern, for example, by sea breezes. Even with a limited data set, based on 2 months of intensive field measurements in 1996 and 1997, there are statistically significant differences in ozone concentrations in air from the different clusters. The limitations of this type of analysis for classification and interpretation of ground-based chemistry measurements are discussed

Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2000
DOI identifier: 10.1016/s1352-2310(00)00098-4
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