2010 April 11: OH Akron: (Particulates mentioned) Counties looking for better ozone forecasts Local team hopes to save money, improve accuracy of air alerts

2010 April 11: OH Akron: (Particulates mentioned) Counties looking for better ozone forecasts Local team hopes to save money, improve accuracy of air alerts
By Bob Downing
Beacon Journal staff writer

Published on Sunday, Apr 11, 2010
Predicting levels of the air pollutant ozone is an inexact science.
A local team hopes to improve the accuracy, reduce false high-ozone alerts and save some money in the process.
Air planners in Akron and Cleveland have decided to produce their own ozone and soot forecasts in 2010 and no longer rely on an outside firm, Sonoma Technology Inc. of California.
The move will save about $55,000 a year for the Cleveland-based Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, which deals with air quality in five counties.
Sonoma Technology had produced ozone predictions for Summit, Portage, Medina, Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Geauga and Ashtabula counties in 2008 and 2009.
The change came because of unhappiness among air planners with Sonoma Technology’s accuracy in predicting ozone levels, based on an analysis by Sam Rubens of the Akron Regional Air Quality Management District, which oversees air matters in three counties.
Sonoma Technology claims 98 percent accuracy in its reports, but Rubens’ analysis concluded that the firm employed a modeling program that is biased high, according to actual readings.
That results in too many false alarms and damages the credibility of air planners trying to convince the public that ozone pollution in Northeast Ohio is a serious problem,
he said.
The company was accurate on 129 of 179 days in 2009, a 72 percent passing rate, Rubens said.
On 20 days, forecasted ozone levels were lower than what was actually recorded in Northeast Ohio; on 30 other days, the forecasted levels were higher than recorded, he said.
In 2008, the company was accurate on 82 of 146 days, a 56 percent rate, Rubens said.
The company improved its forecasting tools before the 2009 ozone season, and the cooler weather in 2009, with few high ozone levels, might have aided forecasting, he said.
The Akron-Cleveland area in 2009 had only three days with ozone levels that posed a risk to the elderly, children and asthmatics, compared to the 10-year average of 28 alerts a year.
The results of Rubens’ analysis show that Northeast Ohio clean-air predictions have ”not been very accurate,” said Amy Wainright, a clean-air planner with the Cleveland agency.
As a result, the Akron and Cleveland air agencies have been ”too aggressive” in issuing advisories — ozone alert days — that really weren’t warranted, she said.
Ozone season runs from April 1 through Oct. 31.
Rubens also found that ozone levels varied greatly on the same day within the eight-county Akron-Cleveland region.
On June 25, 2009, for example, ozone reached unhealthy levels for the elderly, children and asthmatics at three of 11 air monitors: Conneaut, Eastlake and Painesville.
On the same day, ozone levels were moderate at six monitors: Akron’s Patterson Park, Lake Rockwell near Kent, Mayfield, Berea, Elyria and Chardon.
There were two good ozone readings that day: in Medina and in Cleveland.
That shows a need to be able to produce more accurate ozone predictions within the eight counties, Rubens said.
In separate tests, Sonoma Technology was accurate on 155 of 212 days (or 73 percent) on its predictions for microscopic soot or particulate in 2009, Rubens said.
In 2008, the firm was accurate on 252 of 352 days (or 72 percent), he said.
Wainright, Rubens, Akron air intern Wayne Klein, Pete Manousos, staff meteorologist for Akron’s FirstEnergy Corp., and Bob Bechtel of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency are developing a free local forecasting system for both pollutants that should be in place by mid-May.
They have been analyzing weather data in Northeast Ohio over the past five years and comparing that information with actual ozone readings, Wainright said.
She said the plan is to develop a ”highly localized, highly customized protocol” for forecasting ozone and particulates in Northeast Ohio. Having such a micro-scale forecasting ability would be a big plus, she said.
Lake Erie has a big effect and makes forecasting more difficult in the Akron-Cleveland area, she said.
Until the new system is in place, local air planners will rely heavily on free forecasts available from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, she said.
Wainright said Akron-Cleveland air planners usually can predict ozone levels accurately 60 percent of the time and sometimes as high as 80 percent by analyzing a number of local factors, including temperature, wind speed and direction, the previous day’s ozone levels and whether an air inversion is likely.
Forecasting soot levels is far more problematic because more than a dozen factors are involved, she said.


Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or bdowning@thebeaconjournal.com.

Predicting levels of the air pollutant ozone is an inexact science.

A local team hopes to improve the accuracy, reduce false high-ozone alerts and save some money in the process.

Air planners in Akron and Cleveland have decided to produce their own ozone and soot forecasts in 2010 and no longer rely on an outside firm, Sonoma Technology Inc. of California.

The move will save about $55,000 a year for the Cleveland-based Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, which deals with air quality in five counties.

Sonoma Technology had produced ozone predictions for Summit, Portage, Medina, Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Geauga and Ashtabula counties in 2008 and 2009.

The change came because of unhappiness among air planners with Sonoma Technology’s accuracy in predicting ozone levels, based on an analysis by Sam Rubens of the Akron Regional Air Quality Management District, which oversees air matters in three counties.

Sonoma Technology claims 98 percent accuracy in its reports, but Rubens’ analysis concluded that the firm employed a modeling program that is biased high, according to actual readings.

That results in too many false alarms and damages the credibility of air planners trying to convince the public that ozone pollution in Northeast Ohio is a serious problem,
he said.

The company was accurate on 129 of 179 days in 2009, a 72 percent passing rate, Rubens said.

On 20 days, forecasted ozone levels were lower than what was actually recorded in Northeast Ohio; on 30 other days, the forecasted levels were higher than recorded, he said.

In 2008, the company was accurate on 82 of 146 days, a 56 percent rate, Rubens said.

The company improved its forecasting tools before the 2009 ozone season, and the cooler weather in 2009, with few high ozone levels, might have aided forecasting, he said.

The Akron-Cleveland area in 2009 had only three days with ozone levels that posed a risk to the elderly, children and asthmatics, compared to the 10-year average of 28 alerts a year.

The results of Rubens’ analysis show that Northeast Ohio clean-air predictions have ”not been very accurate,” said Amy Wainright, a clean-air planner with the Cleveland agency.

As a result, the Akron and Cleveland air agencies have been ”too aggressive” in issuing advisories — ozone alert days — that really weren’t warranted, she said.

Ozone season runs from April 1 through Oct. 31.

Rubens also found that ozone levels varied greatly on the same day within the eight-county Akron-Cleveland region.

On June 25, 2009, for example, ozone reached unhealthy levels for the elderly, children and asthmatics at three of 11 air monitors: Conneaut, Eastlake and Painesville.

On the same day, ozone levels were moderate at six monitors: Akron’s Patterson Park, Lake Rockwell near Kent, Mayfield, Berea, Elyria and Chardon.

There were two good ozone readings that day: in Medina and in Cleveland.

That shows a need to be able to produce more accurate ozone predictions within the eight counties, Rubens said.

In separate tests, Sonoma Technology was accurate on 155 of 212 days (or 73 percent) on its predictions for microscopic soot or particulate in 2009, Rubens said.

In 2008, the firm was accurate on 252 of 352 days (or 72 percent), he said.

Wainright, Rubens, Akron air intern Wayne Klein, Pete Manousos, staff meteorologist for Akron’s FirstEnergy Corp., and Bob Bechtel of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency are developing a free local forecasting system for both pollutants that should be in place by mid-May.

They have been analyzing weather data in Northeast Ohio over the past five years and comparing that information with actual ozone readings, Wainright said.

She said the plan is to develop a ”highly localized, highly customized protocol” for forecasting ozone and particulates in Northeast Ohio. Having such a micro-scale forecasting ability would be a big plus, she said.

Lake Erie has a big effect and makes forecasting more difficult in the Akron-Cleveland area, she said.

Until the new system is in place, local air planners will rely heavily on free forecasts available from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, she said.

Wainright said Akron-Cleveland air planners usually can predict ozone levels accurately 60 percent of the time and sometimes as high as 80 percent by analyzing a number of local factors, including temperature, wind speed and direction, the previous day’s ozone levels and whether an air inversion is likely.

Forecasting soot levels is far more problematic because more than a dozen factors are involved, she said.


Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or bdowning@thebeaconjournal.com.
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One Response to 2010 April 11: OH Akron: (Particulates mentioned) Counties looking for better ozone forecasts Local team hopes to save money, improve accuracy of air alerts

  1. Pingback: 2010 Nov. 16: OH: Ohio news from 2008 to present | RAWSEP ResidentsAgainstWood SmokeEmissionParticulates

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