Glaciares de Chile


"Rapid urban growth, land-use changes and air pollution in Santiago, Chile"

Romero, H.; Ihl, M.; Rivera, A.; Zalazar, P. and Azocar, P. (1999) : «Rapid urban growth, land-use changes and air pollution in Santiago, Chile» Atmospheric Environment, 33: 4039-4047.

Resumen / Abstract.

This paper is a contribution to the understanding of the topoclimatic and environmental geography of the basin where Santiago one of the most polluted Latin American city is located. In the first part, land-use change is analysed looking at the climatic transformation caused by the rapid transit from natural semiarid surface to urban areas. In the second part, seasonal weather and daily cycles of slope winds and the available ventilation are described trying to relate those patterns with the spatial distribution of air pollution. A combination of meteorological, geographical and cultural factors explain extreme air pollution events: meteorologically, Santiago is under permanent subsidence inversion layers. Geographically, the city is located in a closed basin surrounded by mountains. Culturally, the urban area has the highest population concentration (40% of the national total), industries (near 70% of the total) and vehicles, which are the main sources of smog. The urban and suburban transport system is based on a large number of buses (diesel) and private cars, both experiencing a rapid growth from the past few years. The city and specially the transport system generates high emissions of pollutant, but the natural semiarid deforested soils and slopes are also important sources. The local wind system can explain the di!erential spatial distribution on the concentration of air pollutants in the city and its periphery. In winter (rain season) concentrations of particulate matter are higher at the centre and the SW part of the city. The andean piedmont area (part of the city) shows minimum values, suggesting major ventilation e!ects of slope and valley winds. Ozone exceeds air quality standards in summer (dry season) at all sites in the centre and periphery. However, the O3 -concentrations are higher on preferred residential areas located at the piedmont area (part of the city), suggesting air pollution transport e!ects. Currently, there is no consideration of these local climatic features in the process of urban planning.