Air Quality in a Subarctic Community, Fairbanks, Alaska

  • Joseph G. Holty
Keywords: Long-tailed Jaegers


Expanding population centred around Fairbanks has brought concern that air pollution in the area may become intolerable. The atmosphere of the lower Chena River Valley is extremely stable during much of the year. Temperature inversions are believed to be among the steepest in the world. Inversions at -35°C or below are characterized by a dense layer of "ice fog." This study found that pollution levels doubled or tripled during periods of extreme cold inversions. Some pollutants approached national urban averages, while total suspended matter and carbon monoxide averages exceeded ambient standards. Since air contaminants as well as ice fog increase with human habitation, the possibility of pollution reaching hazardous proportions in this subarctic community should be viewed with urgency.