Effects of future climate change on regional air pollution episodes in the United States
Article first published online: 28 DEC 2004
Copyright 2004 by the American Geophysical Union.
Geophysical Research Letters
Volume 31, Issue 24, December 2004
How to Cite
2004), Effects of future climate change on regional air pollution episodes in the United States, Geophys. Res. Lett., 31, L24103, doi:10.1029/2004GL021216., , , and (
- Issue published online: 28 DEC 2004
- Article first published online: 28 DEC 2004
- Manuscript Accepted: 22 NOV 2004
- Manuscript Revised: 1 NOV 2004
- Manuscript Received: 6 AUG 2004
 We examine the impact of future climate change on regional air pollution meteorology in the United States by conducting a transient climate change (1950–2052) simulation in a general circulation model (GCM) of the Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS). We include in the GCM two tracers of anthropogenic pollution, combustion carbon monoxide (COt) and black carbon (BCt). Sources of both tracers and the loss frequency of COt are held constant in time, while wet deposition of BCt responds to the changing climate. Results show that the severity and duration of summertime regional pollution episodes in the midwestern and northeastern United States increase significantly relative to present. Pollutant concentrations during these episodes increase by 5–10% and the mean episode duration increases from 2 to 3–4 days. These increases appear to be driven by a decline in the frequency of mid-latitude cyclones tracking across southern Canada. The cold fronts associated with these cyclones are known to provide the main mechanism for ventilation of the midwestern and northeastern United States. Mid-latitude cyclone frequency is expected to decrease in a warmer climate; such a decrease is already apparent in long-term observations. Mixing depths over the midwest and northeast increase by 100–240 m in our future-climate simulation, not enough to compensate for the increased stagnation resulting from reduced cyclone frequency.