The potential exists for widespread air quality problems in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Climate and weather are major factors governing the behavior of air pollution, and thus there is a need for greater understanding of border-region air pollution climatology. This paper presents a synoptic climatology of the 850 mb atmospheric circulation for the U.S.-Mexico border region, and an accompanying analysis of relationships between synoptic conditions and ground-level ozone. The synoptic methodology employs high-pass filtering to enable comparisons of all seasons, and it uses modified multiple k means clustering to identify six characteristic circulation patterns. The climatology succinctly summarizes important spatial and temporal complexities of border region circulation, including various pressure configurations, the seasonality of those patterns, and associated weather conditions across the region. These results are linked with ozone data for four border-region cities, and the subsequent findings highlight systematic seasonal and region-wide variations in ozone pollution corresponding to patterns of controlling climatic factors. Three high-ozone scenarios are identified, each of which selectively affects a different area or time of year.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-251
Number of pages15
JournalProfessional Geographer
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 1996


  • Air pollution
  • Ozone
  • Synoptic climatology
  • U.S.-Mexico border
  • Weather

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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