Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Rezaul Mahmood (Director), Stuart Foster, Josh Durkee

Degree Program

Department of Geography and Geology

Degree Type

Master of Science


Air quality modeling is a recent development in atmospheric science dedicated to simulating the characteristics of surface emissions within the context of a variety of meteorological conditions. In western Kentucky, there are several concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that emit a variety of gases, including sulfur dioxide (SO2). The hypothesis was that the concentration and spread of SO2 emissions from these sources would differ between wet and dry periods over the CAFO locations. In this thesis, point emissions from locations representing CAFOs in western Kentucky and the transit of SO2throughout the southeastern U.S. were simulated in multiple sensitivity experiments using the Weather Research and Forecasting model with Chemistry (WRFChem). Simulations were performed for the convective precipitation events that occurred over western Kentucky between July 7 and July 13, 2012. The spatial coverage of SO2 emissions originating from the locations was reduced during precipitation events and expanded during dry periods. The average concentration of SO2 over the study area was also higher during the breaks between precipitation events than during times when precipitation was occurring. The highest concentrations of SO2 exceeding 1,000 pptv remained within close range of the emission locations for the majority of the simulations, except for when local surface winds were blowing at higher speeds. Most emissions from the locations remained limited to the surface and 850 mb levels.


Environmental Studies | Geography | Physical and Environmental Geography