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Keywords:

  • surface ozone;
  • intercontinental transport;
  • methane

[1] Understanding the surface O3 response over a “receptor” region to emission changes over a foreign “source” region is key to evaluating the potential gains from an international approach to abate ozone (O3) pollution. We apply an ensemble of 21 global and hemispheric chemical transport models to estimate the spatial average surface O3 response over east Asia (EA), Europe (EU), North America (NA), and south Asia (SA) to 20% decreases in anthropogenic emissions of the O3 precursors, NOx, NMVOC, and CO (individually and combined), from each of these regions. We find that the ensemble mean surface O3 concentrations in the base case (year 2001) simulation matches available observations throughout the year over EU but overestimates them by >10 ppb during summer and early fall over the eastern United States and Japan. The sum of the O3 responses to NOx, CO, and NMVOC decreases separately is approximately equal to that from a simultaneous reduction of all precursors. We define a continental-scale “import sensitivity” as the ratio of the O3 response to the 20% reductions in foreign versus “domestic” (i.e., over the source region itself) emissions. For example, the combined reduction of emissions from the three foreign regions produces an ensemble spatial mean decrease of 0.6 ppb over EU (0.4 ppb from NA), less than the 0.8 ppb from the reduction of EU emissions, leading to an import sensitivity ratio of 0.7. The ensemble mean surface O3 response to foreign emissions is largest in spring and late fall (0.7–0.9 ppb decrease in all regions from the combined precursor reductions in the three foreign regions), with import sensitivities ranging from 0.5 to 1.1 (responses to domestic emission reductions are 0.8–1.6 ppb). High O3 values are much more sensitive to domestic emissions than to foreign emissions, as indicated by lower import sensitivities of 0.2 to 0.3 during July in EA, EU, and NA when O3 levels are typically highest and by the weaker relative response of annual incidences of daily maximum 8-h average O3 above 60 ppb to emission reductions in a foreign region (<10–20% of that to domestic) as compared to the annual mean response (up to 50% of that to domestic). Applying the ensemble annual mean results to changes in anthropogenic emissions from 1996 to 2002, we estimate a Northern Hemispheric increase in background surface O3 of about 0.1 ppb a−1, at the low end of the 0.1–0.5 ppb a−1 derived from observations. From an additional simulation in which global atmospheric methane was reduced, we infer that 20% reductions in anthropogenic methane emissions from a foreign source region would yield an O3 response in a receptor region that roughly equals that produced by combined 20% reductions of anthropogenic NOx, NMVOC, and CO emissions from the foreign source region.