Long-term trends in nitrogen oxide emissions from motor vehicles at national, state, and air basin scales



[1] A fuel-based approach is used to estimate nitrogen oxides (NOx = NO + NO2) emissions from gasoline- and diesel-powered motor vehicles. Estimates are made at the national level for the period 1990–2010. Vehicle emissions are also estimated at the state level for California, and for the South Coast (Los Angeles) and San Joaquin Valley air basins. Fuel-based emission estimates are compared with predictions from widely used emission inventory models. Changes in diesel NOxemissions vary over time: increasing between 1990 and 1997, stable between 1997 and 2007, and decreasing since 2007. In contrast, gasoline engine-related NOxemissions have decreased steadily, by ∼65% overall between 1990 and 2010, except in the San Joaquin Valley, where reductions were not as large due to faster population growth. In the San Joaquin Valley, diesel engines were the dominant on-road NOxsource in all years considered (reaching ∼70% in 2010). In the urbanized South Coast air basin, gasoline engine emissions dominated in the past and have been comparable to on-road diesel sources since 2007 (down from ∼75% in 1990). Other major anthropogenic sources of NOxare added to compare emission trends with trends in surface pollutant observations and satellite-derived data. When all major anthropogenic NOx sources are included, the overall emission trend is downward in all cases (−45% to −60%). Future reductions in motor vehicle NOxwill depend on the effectiveness of new exhaust after-treatment controls on heavy-duty trucks, as well as further improvements todurabilityof emission control systems on light-duty vehicles.