Simulating changes in regional air pollution over the eastern United States due to changes in global and regional climate and emissions



[1] To simulate ozone (O3) air quality in future decades over the eastern United States, a modeling system consisting of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies Atmosphere-Ocean Global Climate Model, the Pennsylvania State University/National Center for Atmospheric Research mesoscale regional climate model (MM5), and the Community Multiscale Air Quality model has been applied. Estimates of future emissions of greenhouse gases and ozone precursors are based on the A2 scenario developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), one of the scenarios with the highest growth of CO2 among all IPCC scenarios. Simulation results for five summers in the 2020s, 2050s, and 2080s indicate that summertime average daily maximum 8-hour O3 concentrations increase by 2.7, 4.2, and 5.0 ppb, respectively, as a result of regional climate change alone with respect to five summers in the 1990s. Through additional sensitivity simulations for the five summers in the 2050s the relative impact of changes in regional climate, anthropogenic emissions within the modeling domain, and changed boundary conditions approximating possible changes of global atmospheric composition was investigated. Changed boundary conditions are found to be the largest contributor to changes in predicted summertime average daily maximum 8-hour O3 concentrations (5.0 ppb), followed by the effects of regional climate change (4.2 ppb) and the effects of increased anthropogenic emissions (1.3 ppb). However, when changes in the fourth highest summertime 8-hour O3 concentration are considered, changes in regional climate are the most important contributor to simulated concentration changes (7.6 ppb), followed by the effect of increased anthropogenic emissions (3.9 ppb) and increased boundary conditions (2.8 ppb). Thus, while previous studies have pointed out the potentially important contribution of growing global emissions and intercontinental transport to O3 air quality in the United States for future decades, the results presented here imply that it may be equally important to consider the effects of a changing climate when planning for the future attainment of regional-scale air quality standards such as the U.S. national ambient air quality standard that is based on the fourth highest annual daily maximum 8-hour O3 concentration.