Project at a Glance

Title: Improvement of the PM emission inventory for the Lake Tahoe region.

Principal Investigator / Author(s): Fitz, Dennis; Lents, James

Contractor: UC Riverside

Contract Number: 01-733

Research Program Area: Emissions Monitoring & Control, Ecosystem & Multimedia Effects

Topic Areas: Ecosystem Impacts, Impacts, Lake Tahoe Study, Modeling


This study enhanced the understanding of atmospheric sources of nutrients and particulate matter that deposit to Lake Tahoe and can impact water clarity. Possible sources of particulate, phosphorus, and nitrogen deposition from the atmosphere in the Tahoe Basin include smoke from residential wood burning, prescribed fires, wildfires, vehicle exhaust, roadway dust, and regional transport. Currently, the quantity and impact from these and other sources are not well understood. This project helped to characterize the emissions contained in wood burning activities and to quantify the amount and type of wood burning in the Tahoe region. In addition, the type and amount of on-road vehicle activity was better characterized.

A wood burning survey was conducted to better understand campfire activity and a residential wood burning use. In addition, the vehicle activity and fleet composition was investigated by collecting video images and driving pattern data. This information was compared with existing data provided by the States to identify areas where improvements in modeling assumptions can be made.

The fleet and driving patterns of vehicles in the Tahoe Basin were studied to identify potential differences in the current data used in mobile emissions models. It was found that distinct seasonal differences exist in both the fleet makeup, amount of driving, and driving behavior that is not currently accounted for in the modeling. Some areas of discrepancy in fleet makeup, such as percentage of travel from light duty vehicles and heavy duty trucks, and amount of out-of-state vehicles, and driving velocities, are discussed as potential areas where improvements could be made. These differences could have a significant impact on the amount of emissions projected from mobile sources in the Tahoe Basin.

For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Research Division staff at (916) 445-0753

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