MILAGRO - MCMA-2006 Field Campaign

Ground-Based Urban Measurements in Support of Milagro Airborne Measurement Campaign

As part of the continuation of the MCMA-2003 Campaign led by the Integrated Program on Urban, Regional and Global Air Pollution, the multi-national team of investigators plans to return to Mexico City in 2006 to provide ground-based MCMA fine particle and secondary aerosol precursor gas measurements in support MILAGRO (Megacity Initiative: Local and Global Research Observations) Campaign, an unprecedented international effort to observe and quantify the fate of anthropogenic pollutants emitting from the world’s second largest city.  This field campaign will give the MCMA-2003 participants the unique opportunity to expand the MCMA data set with a complementary set of data taken ~3 years later.

The MILAGRO Campaign has four closely coordinated components:

  1. MCMA-2006 (Mexico City Metropolitan Area - 2006) led by the Molina Center on Energy and the Environment with funding from NSF, DOE, and several Mexican research agencies, to examine emissions and boundary layer concentrations within the Mexico City Basin.  A combination of a central fixed site, a highly capable mobile laboratory and several fixed mobile units will be deployed throughout the MCMA to representative urban and boundary sites to gather the required measurements on aerosols, VOCs and other gases, meteorological and solar radiation parameters.
  2. MAX-Mex (Megacity Aerosol Experiment in Mexico City) led by Department of Energy (DOE) Atmospheric Science Program (ASP) with funding from DOE, to examine the evolution of aerosols and gas-aerosols interactions in the immediate urban outflow. This field study includes measurements from a G-1 aircraft and a ground station and will focus on chemical, physical, and optical characterization of the aerosols, on aerosol transformations including aging of the black carbon during outflow into the region, and on the effects of the megacity aerosol plume on the regional radiative balance in and near this megacity source.
  3. MIRAGE-Mex (Megacity Impacts on Regional and Global Environments) led by National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) with funding by NSF to examine the evolution of the Mexico City plume on larger regional scales. This field campaign will coordinate and integrate observations from ground stations, aircraft, and satellites to provide a database for improving regional and global models of the transport and transformations of aging urban pollutants.
  4. INTEX-B (Intercontinental Chemical Transport Experiment – Phase B), led by NASA to study the evolution and transport of pollution on global scales.

The four field campaigns will occur simultaneously and will involve coordinated aircraft and ground-based measurements supported by extensive modeling and satellite observations.  MILAGRO researchers represent more than 60 institutions from the U.S., Mexico, and several other nations. The field campaign is scheduled for March 1- 30, 2006.
The MILAGRO science teams have spent the past two years designing the four mission components such that they dovetail into a comprehensive measurement plan that leverages the contributions of the participant agencies/institutions in an optimal and non-overlapping manner.  The aircraft measurement teams have developed concerted flight plans for the participating aircraft in order to characterize the spatial extent of the plume, quantify gas-aerosol-radiation processes in the evolving plume, and ensure high data quality by intercomparison flights.  Similarly, the ground-based measurement teams have selected three supersites (T0, T1 and T2) to characterize the chemical/physical transformations and the ultimate fate of pollutants exported from urban areas.

Currently, the MCMA-2003 participants are continued to analyze, evaluate, simulate and interpret the huge dataset obtained in spring 2003.  In-depth analyses of the MCMA-2003 data will provide a solid basis for planning the MILAGRO field experiments.  Based on results from 2002 and 2003 field measurement campaign in the MCMA, this coordinated effort to characterize fine particulate matter (PM) and secondary PM precursor gases in the MCMA boundary layer would provide critical “ground truth” data necessary to interpret the comprehensive airborne data sets targeted by DOE, NCAR and NASA airborne instrument suites during the 2006 campaign.  The extensive 2003 MCMA real-time fine particle and secondary particle precursor gases data sets, and similar data to be obtained during MCMA-2006 Campaign, will allow a uniquely thorough analysis of the sources and evolution of airborne fine particles in a developing world megacity.

As with MCMA-2003 Campaign, the MCMA-2006 Campaign will provide scientific training for graduate students,  postdoctoral researchers, and undergraduate students from participating Mexican, US and other international institutions. These students will have the opportunity to participate in a highly collaborative project that will provide opportunities for close collaboration with Mexican and other international scientists who were involved with the MCMA-2003 campaign, as well as with scientists who will collaborate in MCMA-2006 campaign. These collaborations with industrial and international researchers will provide a unique and stimulating training experience for the students and post docs involved in our project.

Collaboration with officials and researchers from the Mexican government agencies was instrumental in the success of the MCMA-2003 field campaign.  The Project investigators have continued the collaboration in the subsequent analysis and interpretation of the large dataset generated in the campaign and in the evaluation of the policy implications. Identification of policy-relevant research findings and their implications will be presented to the Mexican government officials in cooperation with the Molina Center for Strategic Studies in Energy and the Environment. The Center is an independent, non-profit organization established in 2004 to bring together international experts in science and engineering, economics, social and political sciences to engage in collaborative research related to energy and environment, to contribute to decision-making in public and private sectors, and to contribute to the training of future leaders in energy and environment through research and education initiatives.

Overall Science Goal

The overall goal of the MCMA field measurement campaigns is to improve the current knowledge of the chemistry, dispersion and transport processes of the pollutants emitted to the MCMA atmosphere.  Such an understanding would help provide a scientific base for devising emissions control strategies to reduce exposure to harmful pollutants in the MCMA and also provide insights to air pollution problems in other megacities, including large urban centers in the US.  Megacities are also major sources of aerosols and greenhouse gases that are impacting regional and global scale climate. Results from this study will aid in addressing the source strengths and radiative effects of both primary and secondary aerosols.

Specific Science Objectives

1. To characterize primary fine PM and secondary PM precursor gases at T0 and selected downwind sites as thoroughly as possible using high time resolution state-of-the art instruments on board the Aerodyne Mobile Laboratory and deployed at the T0 supersite.
2. To evaluate medium range transport from MCMA to borders sites, using chemical characterization of PM2.5, PM10 and TSP by simultaneous sampling at the three sites (T0, T1 and T2) with high, medium and low volume.
3. To evaluate the total concentration, gas and particulate phases of mercury at T0 and T1 sites.\
4. To quantify the Tula´s refinery apportionment to the total particles and gaseous emissions associated to the greenhouse emissions, and to assess the local and regional environmental impacts.
5.  To characterize the chemical and physical composition of PM2.5 in the MCMA and its diurnal variation and to speciate VOCs from samples taken from industrial stacks located in the MCMA.
6. To measure the Aerosol Optical Thickness (AOT) in 5 to 6 different location over the urban area than is currently available in the AERONET, in order to provide a more consistent validation of the AOT product retrieved from MODIS satellite.  
7.  To measure the vertical profiles of ozone, VOCs, and meteorological parameters using tethered balloon and lidar at the T0 supersite.
8.   To provide meteorological support for MILAGRO field campaign.  This includes analysis of plume dispersion from the Mexico City basin for: pre-campaign planning, campaign forecasting and post-campaign analysis.
9.   To develop methods for source identification based on particle trajectories.
10. To study the health impacts of air pollutants:
  • To conduct exposure assessment study of children and young adults in three different areas along the path of transportation of air pollutants from Mexico City to the neighboring states of Mexico and Hidalgo.
  • DNA degradation.

MILAGRO Geographic Coverage

MILAGRO Ground-based Measurement Sites

Measurement Plans

Please refer to separate Excel spreadsheets for the list of instruments and investigators who have expressed interest in participating in the field campaign.

Lead Scientist:

Luisa T. Molina (MIT/Molina Center)

Science Steering Committee:

Ernesto Caetano (UNAM)
Beatriz Cárdenas (CENICA)
Telma Castro (UNAM) 
Agustín García (UNAM)
Ana Patricia Martínez (CENICA)
Mireya Moya (UNAM)
Gustavo Sosa (IMP)
Rafael Ramos (GDF-SMA)
José Luis Jiménez (University of Colorado)
Charles Kolb (Aerodyne Research Inc.)
Brian Lamb (Washington State University)  
Nancy Marley (Argonne National Lab)
Mario Molina (UCSD/Molina Center)

Logistical Coordinator:

Juan Carlos Arredondo (Molina Center)