The Impacts of Short-Lived Ozone Precursors on Climate and Air Quality Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Fry, Meridith McGee
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering
  • Human emissions of short-lived ozone precursors not only degrade air quality and health, but indirectly affect climate via chemical effects on ozone, methane, and aerosols. Some have advocated for short-lived air pollutants in near-term climate mitigation strategies, in addition to national air quality programs, but their radiative forcing (RF) impacts are uncertain and vary based on emission location. In this work, global chemical transport modeling is combined with radiative transfer modeling to study the impacts of regional ozone precursor emissions (NOx, CO, and NMVOCs) on climate, via changes in ozone, methane, and sulfate, and on regional and global air quality. The first study evaluates NOx, CO, and NMVOC emission reductions from four regions across an ensemble of models, finding that NMVOC and CO reductions from all four regions cool climate (negative RF) by decreasing ozone and methane, while improving air quality. NOx and NMVOC global warming potentials (GWPs), a measure of the relative radiative effects of individual climate forcers, vary strongly among regions, while CO GWPs show less variability. The second and third studies investigate further the RF and air quality impacts of CO and NMVOC emission reductions from 10 world regions. The greatest benefits to RF and air quality (per unit emissions) are achieved by CO reductions from the tropics, due to more active photochemistry and convection. CO GWPs are fairly independent of the reduction region (GWP20: 3.71 to 4.37; GWP100: 1.26 to 1.44), while NMVOC GWPs are more variable (GWP20: -1.13 to 18.9; GWP100: 0.079 to 6.05). Accounting for additional forcings from CO and NMVOC emissions would likely change RF and GWP estimates. Regionally-specific GWPs for NOx and NMVOCs and a globally-uniform GWP for CO may allow these gases to be included in a multi-gas emissions trading framework, and enable comprehensive strategies for meeting climate and air quality goals simultaneously. Future research could investigate full climate responses using coupled chemistry-climate models, and perform regional analyses of specific emission control measures to maximize climate and air quality benefits.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • West, J. Jason
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2013

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