Gayle Hagler1, Dan Birkett This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Ronald C. Henry3, Richard E. Peltier4

1 United States Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711, USA
2 United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2, New York City, NY, USA
3 Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Southern California, University Park, Los Angeles, CA 90007, USA
4 Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, USA

Received: February 21, 2020
Revised: October 23, 2020
Accepted: October 27, 2020

 Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

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Hagler, G., Birkett, D., Henry, R.C., Peltier, R.E. (2021). Three Years of High Time-resolution Air Pollution Monitoring in the Complex Multi-source Harbor of New York and New Jersey. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 21, 200374.


  • High time-resolution monitoring data used to study complex port area. 
  • Over 1.6 million trajectories computed to estimate areas impacting concentrations. 
  • Decreases in port area-related SO2, BC, and NOx observed over study period.


In densely developed port areas with numerous emissions sources, relating measured air quality changes to emissions is challenging given the geographic density of sources without unique pollutant composition signatures. To better understand air quality during increasing emission controls at the Port of New York and New Jersey (“Port”), an air monitoring station was sited to minimize collinearity of sources along ordinal directions. The study area includes an international airport, interstate highway, port terminals and shipping lanes, and industrial sources, as well as typical urban emissions of a megacity. Because air flow travel time from sources to the monitor were usually much less than one hour, minute-by-minute, high-precision data were collected for three years (2013–2015) for sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), oxides of nitrogen (NO, NO2), black carbon (BC), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), and meteorology (wind speed, wind direction, temperature, humidity). From summer 2014 to spring 2015, hourly metals data were also collected. A high degree of temporal variability was observed for pollutants associated with direct emissions, with highest hourly average coefficient of variation observed for NO (2.65), SO2 (1.45) and BC (1.21). Nonparametric trajectory analysis (NTA) was utilized to separate the source areas influencing the monitoring data and observe how they changed over time, with over 1.6 million trajectories computed in total. Comparing the last 5 quarters of the study to the first 5 quarters, concentrations at the monitoring site associated with three port-related geographic areas decreased by 34–41%, 11–17%, and 28–41% for SO2, NOx, and BC, respectively. Over the same period, indicators of shipping and cargo activity at the port remained relatively constant; therefore, a shift in emission factors is likely the cause of the change. This study demonstrates the value of high-time resolution, accurate monitoring data along with careful siting to understand source area influences.

Keywords: Sulfur dioxide, Nitrogen oxides, Black carbon, Port, Shipping

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