City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

November 15, 2016

November 15th

Filed under: Avenues, Colors, Guardhouse gate, Weather — canopus56 @ 7:40 pm

Blue Sky and Inverted Air

Noon. As I enter the canyon another regular is bicycling out and exclaims, “The sky is so blue; there is not a cloud in it.” He is right. Because of the lower angle of Fall sunlight and the absence of any pollution, the sky has a brilliant light-blue or turquoise color. As a result, the contrast between the blue sky and tan ridgeline is exceptionally sharp. Descending back into the city after my jog, a layer of brown air trapped by a higher, colder layer above the hotter city air is evident. The city is known for having some of the lowest air quality in the nation. Usually, the top of this inversion layer just touches guardhouse gate, and this is one of the main reasons that I come to the canyon to jog – the air here is clean. The inversion layer moves with the seasons. Back on August 27th, the summer heat first raised the inversion layer from the city below to where air pollution crept into the upper canyon. Instead of coming to jog in the canyon to clean my lungs, I started to cough sputum. In the winter, the inversion and air pollution in the city intensifies. A mile away, the city and county of one million people are unseen under the bank of inversion air that is as thick as a dense fog. Then, residents take to running on snow packed trails along the high ridgeline between City Creek and the Avenues and above the bad air. With the colder Fall air, the inversion layer retreated back to the city a month ago, and today, the canyon air again tastes brisk and clean.

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