PIERCE, T. E., C. Hogrefe, S. T. RAO, P. Porter, AND J. Ku. Dynamic Evaluation of a Regional Air Quality Model: Assessing the Emissions-Induced Weekly Ozone Cycle . ATMOSPHERIC ENVIRONMENT. Elsevier Science Ltd, New York, NY, 44(29):3583-3596, (2010).
Air quality models are used to predict changes in pollutant concentrations resulting from envisioned emission control policies. Recognizing the need to assess the credibility of air quality models in a policy-relevant context, we perform a dynamic evaluation of the community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) modeling system for the "weekend ozone effect" to determine if observed changes in ozone due to weekday-to-weekend (WDWE) reductions in precursor emissions can be accurately simulated. The weekend ozone effect offers a unique opportunity for dynamic evaluation, as it is a widely documented phenomenon that has persisted since the 1970s. In many urban areas of the Unites States, higher ozone has been observed on weekends than weekdays, despite dramatically reduced emissions of ozone precursors (nitrogen oxides [NOx] and volatile organic compounds [VOCs]) on weekends. More recent measurements, however, suggest shifts in the spatial extent or reductions in WDWE ozone differences. Using 18-years (1988-2005) of observed and modeled ozone and temperature data across the northeastern United States, we re-examine the long-term trends in the weekend effect and confounding factors that may be complicating the interpretation of this trend and explore whether CMAQ can replicate the temporal features of the observed weekend effect. The amplitudes of the weekly ozone cycle have decreased during the 18-year period in our study domain, but the year-to-year variability in weekend minus weekday ozone amplitudes is quite large. Inter-annual variability in meteorology appears to influence WEWD differences in ozone, as well as WEWD differences in VOC and NOx emissions. Because of the large inter-annual variability, modeling strategies using a single episode lasting a few days or a few episodes in a given year may not capture the WEWD signal that exists over longer time periods. The CMAQ model showed skill in predicting the absolute values of ozone concentrations during the daytime. However, early morning NOx concentrations were underestimated and ozone levels were overestimated. Also, the modeled response of ozone to WEWD differences in emissions was somewhat less than that observed. This study reveals that model performance may be improved by (1) properly estimating mobile source NOx emissions and their temporal distributions, especially for diesel vehicles; (2) reducing the grid cell size in the lowest layer of CMAQ; and, (3) using time-dependent and more realistic boundary conditions for the CMAQ simulations.
The National Exposure Research Laboratory′s (NERL′s) Atmospheric Modeling and Analysis Division (AMAD) conducts research in support of EPA′s mission to protect human health and the environment. AMAD′s research program is engaged in developing and evaluating predictive atmospheric models on all spatial and temporal scales for forecasting the Nation′s air quality and for assessing changes in air quality and air pollutant exposures, as affected by changes in ecosystem management and regulatory decisions. AMAD is responsible for providing a sound scientific and technical basis for regulatory policies based on air quality models to improve ambient air quality. The models developed by AMAD are being used by EPA, NOAA, and the air pollution community in understanding and forecasting not only the magnitude of the air pollution problem, but also in developing emission control policies and regulations for air quality improvements.