The aim of this paper is to study the levels and variability of surface ozone in the lower Ebre Valley and to estimate whether this surface ozone has its origin in local photochemical processes or in long-range transport. Surface ozone data series of twelve years (1994-2005) have been used from a rural area (Ebre Observatory) together with three years (2003-2005) data of nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Ozone trends over the whole seasonal period, weekly and daily variations and exceedances of the legal threshold have been investigated. Furthermore, a representative ozone event has been studied in detail. Using ozone data from the twelve-year period resulted in a positive trend with an increase of 2.18 μg m-3 year-1 and 0.64 μg m-3 year-1 in summer and winter, respectively. The seasonal evolution of ozone gives a minimum value in winter and a maximum higher than 75 μg m-3 associated with the minimum values of NO2. Ozone-NO2 variation shows a weak ozone increase on weekdays and a small decrease in NO2 concentrations at the weekends. Hence, a weekend effect is not observed. Ozone and NO2 concentrations show a diurnal pattern with NO2 peaks both in the early morning and in the evening, and maximum ozone concentrations, higher than 90-100 μg m-3, from 12:00 to 18:00 UTC in the warmer seasons. The threshold for the protection of human health has been exceeded from March to September each year, with a mean of 33 times per year. An event with high ozone levels originated by transport processes from the Mediterranean area was also analysed. The results suggest that high ozone could be caused mainly by transport mechanisms, and the Ebre valley could be considered to be a natural communication channel between the western Mediterranean basin and the Atlantic Ocean.
- Nitrogen oxides
- Ozone episode
- Ozone trends
- Seasonal-weekly-daily variations