River winds and pollutant recirculation near the Manaus city

Local atmospheric recirculation flows (i.e., river winds) induced by thermal contrast between wide Amazon rivers and adjacent forests could affect pollutant dispersion, but observational platforms for investigating this possibility have been lacking. Here we collected daytime vertical profiles of meteorological variables and chemical concentrations up to 500 m with a copter-type unmanned aerial vehicle during the 2019 dry season. Cluster analysis showed that a river-forest recirculation flow occurred for 23% (13 of 56) of the profiles. In fair weather, the thermally driven river winds fully developed for synoptic wind speeds below 4 m s−1, and during these periods the vertical profiles of carbon monoxide and total oxidants (defined as ozone and nitrogen dioxide) were altered.

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Fig: Conceptual overview of river winds and details of field campaign

Numerical modeling shows that the river winds can recirculate pollution back toward the riverbank. There are implications regarding air quality for the many human settlements along the rivers throughout northern Brazil.

Zhao, T., Ye, J., Ribeiro, I.O. et al. River winds and pollutant recirculation near the Manaus city in the central Amazon. Commun Earth Environ 2, 205 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-021-00277-6

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