On the ratio of sulfur dioxide to nitrogen oxides as an indicator of air pollution sources

R. Nirel*, U. Dayan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The ratio of sulfur dioxide to nitrogen oxides (RSN = SO2/NOx) is one indicator of air pollution sources. The role of this ratio in source attribution is illustrated here for the Ashdod area, located in the southern coastal plain of Israel. The main sources of pollution in the area are the tall stacks of the Eshkol power plant, the stacks of oil refineries, and areal sources (stationary and mobile). The factors that affect RSN are studied using four regression models: a binary regression tree in original scale, a tree in logarithmic scale, a data partition produced by a combination of the two trees, and a linear regression model. All models have similar relative prediction error, with the combined partition best highlighting the sources of variability in RSN: (a) very low values (interquartile range of [0.12, 0.48]) are associated with traffic, (b) low values ([0.43, 1.00]) are attributed to the power plant and to daytime emissions of local industry, (c) medium values ([0.74, 1.90]) are associated with local industry emissions during cooler hours of the day and refinery emissions mainly on slow wind episodes, and (d) high values ([1.07, 4.30]) are attributed to refinery emissions during moderate to fast wind episodes. Analysis of the number of episodes of increased concentrations indicates that, during 1996 and 1997, about 42% of SO2 episodes are attributable to the power plant and 33% to the refineries. Increased-NOx episodes are mainly contributed by traffic (91%) and power plant (4.5%) emissions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1209-1222
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2001


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