Changing air mass frequencies in Canada: Potential links and implications for human health

J. K. Vanos, S. Cakmak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Many individual variables have been studied to understand climate change, yet an overall weather situation involves the consideration of many meteorological variables simultaneously at various times diurnally, seasonally, and yearly. The current study identifies a full weather situation as an air mass type using synoptic scale classification, in 30 population centres throughout Canada. Investigative analysis of long-term air mass frequency trends was completed, drawing comparisons between seasons and climate zones. We find that the changing air mass trends are highly dependent on the season and climate zone being studied, with an overall increase of moderate ('warm') air masses and decrease of polar ('cold') air masses. In the summertime, general increased moisture content is present throughout Canada, consistent with the warming air masses. The moist tropical air mass, containing the most hot and humid air, is found to increase in a statistically significant fashion in the summertime in 46 % of the areas studied, which encompass six of Canada's ten largest population centres. This emphasises the need for heat adaptation and acclimatisation for a large proportion of the Canadian population. In addition, strong and significant decreases of transition/frontal passage days were found throughout Canada. This result is one of the most remarkable transition frequency results published to date due to its consistency in identifying declining trends, coinciding with research completed in the United States (US). We discuss relative results and implications to similar US air mass trend analyses, and draw upon research studies involving large-scale upper-level air flow and vortex connections to air mass changes, to small-scale meteorological and air pollution interactions. Further research is warranted to better understand such connections, and how these air masses relate to the overall and city-specific health of Canadians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-135
Number of pages15
JournalInternational journal of biometeorology
Volume58
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Air mass
  • Canada
  • Climatology
  • Heat stress
  • Human health
  • Spatial synoptic classification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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