The global atmospheric environment for the next generation

Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, via E. Fermi 1, 1-21020, Ispra, Italy.
Environmental Science and Technology (Impact Factor: 5.48). 07/2006; 40(11):3586-94. DOI: 10.1021/es0523845
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Air quality, ecosystem exposure to nitrogen deposition, and climate change are intimately coupled problems: we assess changes in the global atmospheric environment between 2000 and 2030 using 26 state-of-the-art global atmospheric chemistry models and three different emissions scenarios. The first (CLE) scenario reflects implementation of current air quality legislation around the world, while the second (MFR) represents a more optimistic case in which all currently feasible technologies are applied to achieve maximum emission reductions. We contrast these scenarios with the more pessimistic IPCC SRES A2 scenario. Ensemble simulations for the year 2000 are consistent among models and show a reasonable agreement with surface ozone, wet deposition, and NO2 satellite observations. Large parts of the world are currently exposed to high ozone concentrations and high deposition of nitrogen to ecosystems. By 2030, global surface ozone is calculated to increase globally by 1.5 +/- 1.2 ppb (CLE) and 4.3 +/- 2.2 ppb (A2), using the ensemble mean model results and associated +/-1 sigma standard deviations. Only the progressive MFR scenario will reduce ozone, by -2.3 +/- 1.1 ppb. Climate change is expected to modify surface ozone by -0.8 +/- 0.6 ppb, with larger decreases over sea than over land. Radiative forcing by ozone increases by 63 +/- 15 and 155 +/- 37 mW m(-2) for CLE and A2, respectively, and decreases by -45 +/- 15 mW m(-2) for MFR. We compute that at present 10.1% of the global natural terrestrial ecosystems are exposed to nitrogen deposition above a critical load of 1 g N m(-2) yr(-1). These percentages increase by 2030 to 15.8% (CLE), 10.5% (MFR), and 25% (A2). This study shows the importance of enforcing current worldwide air quality legislation and the major benefits of going further. Nonattainment of these air quality policy objectives, such as expressed by the SRES-A2 scenario, would further degrade the global atmospheric environment.

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