1Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA
2National Institute for Environmental Studies, Tsukuba, Japan
3Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Yokohama, Japan
4Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey, USA
*now at: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
**now at: Japan Environmental Sanitation Center, Niigata, Japan
Abstract. The number of vehicles in China has been increasing rapidly. We evaluate the impact of current and possible future vehicle emissions from China on Asian air quality. We modify the Regional Emission Inventory in Asia (REAS) for China's road transport sector in 2000 using updated Chinese data for vehicle numbers, annual mileage and emission factors. We develop two scenarios for 2020: a scenario where emission factors remain the same as they were before any regulation was implemented (business-as-usual, BAU), and a scenario where Euro 3 vehicle emission standards are applied to all vehicles (except motorcycles and rural vehicles). The Euro 3 scenario is an approximation of what may be the case in 2020 as, starting in 2008, all new gasoline and diesel vehicles in China (except motorcycles) were required to meet the Euro 3 emission standards. Using the Weather Research and Forecasting model coupled with Chemistry (WRF/Chem), we examine the regional air quality response to China's vehicle emissions in 2000 and in 2020 for the BAU and Euro 3 scenarios. We evaluate the 2000 model results with observations in Japan, China, Korea, and Russia. Under BAU in 2020, emissions of carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs), black carbon (BC) and organic carbon (OC) from China's vehicles more than double compared to the 2000 baseline. If all vehicles meet the Euro 3 regulations in 2020, however, these emissions are reduced by more than 50% relative to BAU. The implementation of stringent vehicle emission standards leads to a large, simultaneous reduction of the surface ozone (O3) mixing ratios and particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations. In the Euro 3 scenario, surface O3 is reduced by more than 10 ppbv and surface PM2.5 is reduced by more than 10 μg m−3 relative to BAU in Northeast China in all seasons. In spring, surface O3 mixing ratios and PM2.5 concentrations in neighboring countries are also reduced by more than 3 ppbv and 1 μg m−3, respectively. We find that effective regulation of China's road transport sector will be of significant benefit for air quality both within China and across East Asia as well.