The Southern Oxidants Study (SOS) is a strategic alliance of research scientists, engineers, and air quality managers from universities, federal and state governments, industry, and public interest groups.
In SOS, these groups work to design and execute scientific research and assessment programs that will increase understanding of the accumulation of ozone, other oxidants, and fine particulate matter in the atmosphere near the ground.
SOS was formed in June 1988 when a group of 60 concerned scientists, federal and state agency officials, and key industry representatives gathered at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA. The group considered the question of why ozone abatement measures had been largely unsuccessful, particularly in the South.
As a result, the following actions took place:
- Establishment of a multi-year research and monitoring program to study the formation of ozone in the South and to evaluate alternative strategies for its decrease.
- Creation of the Southern Oxidants Study, a strategic alliance committed to supporting and participating in the program.
SOS received funding from a variety of sources and agencies and began the multi-year study in 1990.
The SOS research program has included:
- Continuous monitoring of regional ozone concentrations, weather and climatic factors, and ozone precursor concentrations in the southeastern US.
- Periodic intensive studies of ozone concentrations, ozone precursor concentrations, and meteorological parameters in selected urban ozone non-attainment areas and surrounding rural areas in the South. The first SOS intensive study was conducted in the Atlanta metropolitan area in 1991-1992. The second SOS intensive study took place in the Nashville/Middle Tennessee area in 1994-95. During the summer of 1999, intensive studies took place in both Nashville/Middle Tennessee and Atlanta. SOS was involved in an intensive study in the Houston area during the summer of 2000, and another field program in the Houston-Galveston area in 2005-2006.
- Modeling and model evaluation studies that aid in the design of measurement programs and utilize data collected during field studies.
- Periodic publication of scientific findings in peer-reviewed journals (e.g., Compendium of Papers from the SOS Nashville/Middle Tennessee Ozone Study and from the 1999 Atlanta Intensive) and as policy-relevant statements of findings (e.g., State of the Southern Oxidants Study).
In June 1998, SOS began making the transition from a research and assessment program concerned primarily with ozone and other oxidants in rural and urban areas within the 10 states of the southern United States, to a research and assessment program concerned with ozone, other oxidants, and fine particulate matter in this same 10-state area. An intensive study in Atlanta in 1999 focused on particulate matter composition and formation. Intensive studies in Houston/Galveston in 2000 and 2005/2006 focus on ozone accumulation and on particulate matter in regional haze.