Statistical downscaling of climate change impacts on ozone concentrations in California



[1] The statistical relationship between the daily 1-hour maximum ozone (O3) concentrations and the daily maximum upper air temperature was explored for California's two most heavily polluted air basins: the South Coast Air Basin (SoCAB) and the San Joaquin Valley Air Basin (SJVAB). A coarse-scale analysis of the temperature at an elevation of 850-mbar pressure (T850) for the period 1980–2004 was obtained from the National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP)/National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Reanalysis data set for grid points near Upland (SoCAB) and Parlier (SJVAB). Daily 1-hour maximum ozone concentrations were obtained from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for these locations over the same time period. The ozone concentrations measured at any given value of the Reanalysis T850 were approximately normally distributed. The 25%, 50%, and 75% quartile ozone concentrations increased linearly with T850, reflecting the effect of temperature on emissions and chemical reaction rates. A 2D Lagrangian (trajectory) form of the UCD/CIT photochemical air quality model was used in a perturbation study to explain the variability of the ozone concentrations at each value of T850. Wind speed, wind direction, temperature, relative humidity, mixing height, initial concentrations for VOC concentrations, background ozone concentrations, time of year, and overall emissions were perturbed in a realistic fashion during this study. A total of 62 model simulations were performed, and the results were analyzed to show that long-term changes to emissions inventories were the largest sources of ozone variability at a fixed value of T850. Projections of future T850 values in California were obtained from the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) model under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) A2 and B1 emissions scenarios for the years 2001 to 2100. The future temperature trends combined with the historical statistical relationships suggest that an additional 22–30 days year−1 in California would experience O3 ≥90 ppb under the A2 global emissions scenario, and an additional 6–13 days year−1 would experience O3 ≥ 90 ppb under the B1 global emissions scenario by the year 2050 (assuming the NOx and VOC emissions remained at 1990–2004 levels). These calculations help to quantify the climate “penalty” that must be overcome to improve air quality in California.