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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2017-1073
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
04 Dec 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).
Particulate matter air pollution offsets ozone damage to global crop production
Luke D. Schiferl1 and Colette L. Heald1,2 1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
2Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Abstract. Ensuring global food security requires a comprehensive understanding of environmental pressures on food production, including the impacts of air quality. Surface ozone damages plants and decreases crop production; this effect has been extensively studied. In contrast, the presence of particulate matter (PM) in the atmosphere can be beneficial to crops given that enhanced light scattering leads to a more even and efficient distribution of photons which can outweigh total incoming radiation loss. This study quantifies the impacts of ozone and PM on the global production of maize, rice, and wheat in 2010 and 2050. We show that accounting for the growing season of these crops is an important factor in determining their air pollution exposure. We find that the effect of PM can offset much, if not all, of the reduction in yield associated with ozone damage. Assuming maximum sensitivity to PM, the current (2010) global net impact of air quality on crop production is positive (+6.0 %, +0.5 %, and +4.9 % for maize, wheat, and rice, respectively). Future emissions scenarios indicate that attempts to improve air quality can result in a net negative effect on crop production in areas dominated by the PM effect. However, we caution that the uncertainty in this assessment is large due to the uncertainty associated with crop response to changes in diffuse radiation; this highlights that more detailed physiological study of this response for common cultivars is crucial.

Citation: Schiferl, L. D. and Heald, C. L.: Particulate matter air pollution offsets ozone damage to global crop production, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2017-1073, in review, 2017.
Luke D. Schiferl and Colette L. Heald
Luke D. Schiferl and Colette L. Heald
Luke D. Schiferl and Colette L. Heald

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Short summary
Global population growth and industrialization has contributed to poor air quality worldwide, and increasing population will put pressure on global food production. We therefore assess how air pollution may impact crop growth. Ozone has previously been shown to damage crops. We demonstrate that the impact of particles associated with enhanced light scattering promotes growth, offsetting much, if not all ozone damage. This has implications for air quality management and global food security.
Global population growth and industrialization has contributed to poor air quality worldwide,...
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