Projecting policy – relevant metrics for high summertime ozone pollution events over the 1 Eastern United States due to climate and emission changes during the 21st century

Rieder, Harald; Fiore, Arlene M.; Horowitz, Larry W.; Naik, Vaishali

Over the eastern United States (EUS), nitrogen oxides (NOx) emission controls have led to improved air quality over the past two decades, but concerns have been raised that climate warming may offset some of these gains. Here we analyze the effect of changing emissions and climate, in isolation and combination, on EUS summertime surface ozone (O3) over the recent past and the 21st century in an ensemble of simulations performed with the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory CM3 chemistry-climate model. The simulated summertime EUS O3 is biased high but captures the structure of observed changes in regional O3 distributions following NOx emission reductions. We introduce a statistical bias correction, which allows derivation of policy-relevant statistics by assuming a stationary mean state bias in the model, but accurate simulation of changes at each quantile of the distribution. We contrast two different 21st century scenarios: (i) representative concentration pathway (RCP) 4.5 and (ii) simulations with well-mixed greenhouse gases (WMGG) following RCP4.5 but with emissions of air pollutants and precursors held fixed at 2005 levels (RCP4.5_WMGG). We find under RCP4.5 no exceedance of maximum daily 8 hour average ozone above 75 ppb by mid-21st century, reflecting the U.S. NOx emissions reductions projected in RCP4.5, while more than half of the EUS exceeds this level by the end of the 21st century under RCP4.5_WMGG. Further, we find a simple relationship between the changes in estimated 1 year return levels and regional NOx emission changes, implying that our results can be generalized to estimate changes in the frequency of EUS pollution events under different regional NOx emission scenarios.


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Also Published In

Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

More About This Work

Academic Units
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Ocean and Climate Physics
American Geophysical Union
Published Here
November 19, 2015