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Keywords:

  • United States;
  • ozone;
  • rural;
  • surface;
  • trend

[1] This analysis provides an up-to-date assessment of long-term (1990–2010) rural ozone trends using all available data in the western (12 sites) and eastern (41 sites) USA. Rather than focus solely on average ozone values or air quality standard violations, we consider the full range of ozone values, reporting trends for the 5th, 50th and 95th percentiles. Domestic ozone precursor emissions decreased strongly during 1990–2010. Accordingly 83%, 66% and 20% of summertime eastern U.S. sites experienced statistically significant ozone decreases in the 95th, 50th and 5th percentiles, respectively. During spring 43% of the eastern sites have statistically significant ozone decreases for the 95th percentile with no sites showing a significant increase. At the 50th percentile there is little overall change in the eastern U.S. In contrast, only 17% (2 sites) and 8% (1 site) of summertime western U.S. sites have statistically significant ozone decreases in the 95th and 50th percentiles, respectively. During spring no western site has a significant decrease, while 50% have a significant median increase. This dichotomy in U.S. ozone trends is discussed in terms of changing anthropogenic and biomass burning emissions. Consideration is given to the concept that increasing baseline ozone flowing into the western U.S. is counteracting ozone reductions due to domestic emission reductions. An update to the springtime free tropospheric ozone trend above western North America shows that ozone has increased significantly from 1995 to 2011 at the rate of 0.41 ± 0.27 ppbv yr−1. Finally, the ozone changes are examined in relation to regional temperature trends.