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High school: Environmental Science

"An Ill Wind Blows: The Wind Rose"

Question: Does the prevailing wind affect the pollution in border cities.

Research: Using wind rose data and pollution data from El Paso a US/Mexico border city, research and determine the effect on prevailing/seasonal winds on air quality. What is a wind rose? A wind rose is a historical record of prevailing winds expressed as a vector diagram. The wind rose will show seasonal trends in wind direction and relative velocities. In the monthly summary of pollution levels a precise wind direction and pollutant level s can be obtained. It is very common to point fingers at the other person and blame air pollution on the other person. Monthly pollutant data is presented in tabular form and highest readings are underlined. Carbon monoxide is limited to an average of 9 ppm for an eight hour average and 35 ppm for a one hour average. Ozone has an eight hour limit of 0.075 ppm. Other pollutants can be found at the link below. Using factual information a dialogue can begin to remediate air pollution where mutual benefits can help all parties. Links are provided below to assist you in finding data at the TCEQ, US Customs and EPA sites.

Hypothesis: Student Generated
The following sites can be used to obtain data for this lab: border air quality environmental issues border wait times wind rose data air monitoring stations historical data Air quality standards How to read a wind rose.


  • Using a map determine the cities that are in close proximity of El Paso on the US/Mexico border.
  • Using the wind rose data for Jan., April, July, and November for El Paso TX determine the direction of the prevailing winds.
  • Analyze the monthly air quality summaries for the same month.
  • Using the wind rose data and the air pollution summary try to determine if there is a trend followed by the direction of the wind and the relative pollution levels.
  • Choose two months that are next to each other and do the same comparisons.
  • Look for trends that may indicate that wind direction affects air quality.


  1. Does border wait time and wind direction cause air quality issues?
  2. Do seasonal variations adversely affect air quality?
  3. Does a lack of wind affect air quality?
  4. Describe a solution for improving air qualities in the border region.
  5. There are three Cities located in a close proximity of the border research their partnership in improving air quality for the region. Are there any other examples of these partnerships along the border?
  6. Is the pollution produced in the El Paso region associated with a specific industry or country?

Supporting document: Wind Rose

Extension: Using similar procedures research the wind rose and pollution data for your area. Is there an obvious pattern that should influence urban planning?

Rosewind for January El Paso Rosewind for February El Paso Rosewind for March El Paso Rosewind for April El Paso Rosewind for May El Paso Rosewind for June El Paso Rosewind for July El Paso Rosewind for August El Paso Rosewind for September El Paso Rosewind for October El Paso Rosewind for November El Paso Rosewind for December El Paso
Carbon Monoxide report January Carbon Monoxide report January Carbon Monoxide report January Carbon Monoxide report January Carbon Monoxide report January Carbon Monoxide report January Carbon Monoxide report January