Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 13, 11315-11355, 2013
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in ACP.
The impact of emissions and climate change on ozone in the United States under Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs)
Y. Gao1, J. S. Fu1, J. B. Drake1, J.-F. Lamarque2, and Y. Liu3
1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
2Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate and Global Dynamics Divisions, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA
3Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Abstract. Dynamical downscaling was applied in this study to link the global climate–chemistry model Community Atmosphere Model (CAM-Chem) with the regional models: Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model and Community Multi-scale Air Quality (CMAQ). Two Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) scenarios (RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5) were used to evaluate the climate impact on ozone concentrations in 2050s.

Ozone concentrations in the lower-mid troposphere (surface to ~ 300 hPa), from mid- to high latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere (NH), show decreasing trends in RCP 4.5 between 2000s and 2050s, with the largest decrease of 4–10 ppbv occurring in the summer and the fall; and increasing trends (2–12 ppbv) in RCP 8.5 resulting from the increased methane emissions. In RCP 8.5, methane emissions increase by ~ 60% by the end of 2050s, accounting for more than 90% of ozone increases in summer and fall, and 60–80% in spring and winter.

Under the RCP 4.5 scenario, in the summer when photochemical reactions are the most active, the large ozone precursor emissions reduction leads to the greatest decrease of downscaled surface ozone concentrations, ranging from 6 to 10 ppbv. However, a few major cities show ozone increases of 3 to 7 ppbv due to weakened NO titration. Under the RCP 8.5 scenario, in winter, downscaled ozone concentrations increase across nearly the entire continental US in winter, ranging from 3 to 10 ppbv due to increased methane emissions and enhanced stratosphere-troposphere exchange (STE). More intense heat waves are projected to occur by the end of 2050s in RCP 8.5, leading to more than 8 ppbv of the maximum daily 8 h daily average (MDA8) ozone during the heat wave days than other days; this indicates the dramatic impact heat waves exert on high frequency ozone events.

Citation: Gao, Y., Fu, J. S., Drake, J. B., Lamarque, J.-F., and Liu, Y.: The impact of emissions and climate change on ozone in the United States under Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs), Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 13, 11315-11355, doi:10.5194/acpd-13-11315-2013, 2013.
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