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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-510
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 13 Jun 2018

Research article | 13 Jun 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

The potential effects of climate change on air quality across the conterminous U.S. at 2030 under three Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs)

Christopher G. Nolte1, Tanya L. Spero1, Jared H. Bowden2, Megan S. Mallard1, and Patrick D. Dolwick3 Christopher G. Nolte et al.
  • 1Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA
  • 2North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
  • 3Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA

Abstract. The potential impacts of climate change on regional ozone (O3) and fine particulate (PM2.5) air quality in the United States are investigated by downscaling Community Earth System Model (CESM) global climate simulations with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, then using the downscaled meteorological fields with the Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) model. Regional climate and air quality change between 2000 and 2030 under three Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) is simulated using 11-year time slices from CESM. The regional climate fields represent historical daily maximum and daily minimum temperatures well, with mean biases less than 2K for most regions of the U.S. and most seasons of the year and good representation of the variability. Precipitation in the central and eastern U.S. is well simulated for the historical period, with seasonal and annual biases generally less than 25%, and positive biases in the western U.S. throughout the year and in part of the eastern U.S. during summer. Maximum daily 8-h ozone (MDA8 O3) is projected to increase during summer and autumn in the central and eastern U.S. The increase in summer mean MDA8 O3 is largest under RCP8.5, exceeding 4ppb in some locations, with smaller seasonal mean increases of up to 2ppb simulated during autumn and changes during spring generally less than 1ppb. Increases are magnified at the upper end of the O3 distribution, particularly where projected increases in temperature are greater. Annual average PM2.5 concentration changes range from −1.0 to 1.0μgm−3. Organic PM2.5 concentrations increase during summer and autumn due to increased biogenic emissions. Decreases in aerosol nitrate occur during winter, accompanied by lesser decreases in ammonium and sulfate, due to warmer temperatures causing increased partitioning to the gas phase. Among meteorological factors examined to account for modeled changes in pollution, temperature and isoprene emissions are found to have the largest changes and the greatest impact on O3 concentrations.

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Christopher G. Nolte et al.
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Short summary
Changes in air pollution in the United States are simulated under three near-future climate scenarios. Widespread increases in average ozone levels are projected, with the largest increases during summer under the highest warming scenario. Increases are driven by higher temperatures and emissions from vegetation, and are magnified at the upper end of the ozone distribution. The increases in ozone have potentially important implications for efforts to protect human health.
Changes in air pollution in the United States are simulated under three near-future climate...
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