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Whistler Peak High Elevation Research Site

The Whistler Peak High Elevation Research Site is located at the peak of Whistler Mountain (50o03', 122o57'W, 2182 m-asl elevation) in Whistler, British Columbia and is one of few high elevation air quality sites in North America.

The site was established in 2002 and is operated year-round through collaboration with Whistler-Blackcomb mountain operations. Research to date at Whistler Peak is documented in journal publications and conference presentations.

Observations from mountain sites are particularly valuable because there are minimal local pollution influences, making it easier to observe the air from intercontinental transport and changes in

A photograph of a snow-covered mountain top, with a chair lift, and a small building circled in red.
Aerial view of Whistler Peak. The atmospheric measurement instrumentation, located inside of the lift operator’s hut, is marked in red.

air above the planetary boundary layer. Mountain-tops, such as Whistler, are suitable for the study of cloud and aerosol interactions. Being situated atop a forested valley Whistler also offers a unique environment for the study of emissions from forests and forest fires.

Soil dust and pollution originating from Asia, Europe, and elsewhere (even the Saharan desert) are transported across the Pacific with impacts on air quality, visibility, and deposition in North America. Continuous sampling at Whistler Peak provides information on the chemistry of this air entering Canada at its west coast. The characterization of particles and gaseous pollutants throughout the year and their variability from year to year are being used to track long term changes in the atmosphere and to improve numerical models for air quality and climate.

A photograph of a small snow-covered building, with an inlet tube on the roof circled in red.
Lift operator’s hut at Whistler Peak houses the atmospheric measurement instrumentation. The inlet used to bring air to the instrumentation is marked in red.

The Whistler Peak site has been part of several intensive studies in collaboration with Canadian and international university and government partners, including the 2006 NASA-led Intercontinental Chemical Transport Experiment (INTEX-B) to investigate trans-Pacific transport and the 2010 Whistler Aerosol and Cloud Study (WACS 2010) to study the chemistry and physics of clouds and aerosols in the region, including aerosol formed as a result of forest emissions. On a continuous basis, aerosol measurements from Whistler support Environment Canada’s Canadian Aerosol Baseline Measurement (CABM) Program and contribute to the NOAA Global Monitoring Division Aerosol surface network.