Impacts of Climate Change and Land Cover Change on Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds (BVOCs) Emissions in Texas

EPA Grant Number: R831452
Title: Impacts of Climate Change and Land Cover Change on Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds (BVOCs) Emissions in Texas
Investigators: Yang, Zong-Liang , Parmenter, Barbara , Allen, David T.
Institution: The University of Texas at Austin
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: November 1, 2003 through October 31, 2006 (Extended to October 31, 2007)
Project Amount: $750,000
RFA: Consequences of Global Change for Air Quality: Spatial Patterns in Air Pollution Emissions (2003) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Climate Change , Air , Air Quality and Air Toxics , Global Climate Change


Significant amounts of vegetation and forests in eastern and central Texas are the source of substantial emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which, when mixed with nitrogen oxides from anthropogenic sources, can lead to ozone formation. The biogenic emissions depend on many factors, primarily the types of vegetation species, as well as the densities of these species. In addition, biogenic VOC emissions vary with environmental conditions such as temperature, solar radiation, plant water stress, and ambient ozone and CO2 concentrations. At present, the response of biogenic VOC emissions to climate change and land cover change is largely unknown. We propose to address this issue by applying an integrated land-emission-climate modeling system to assess the effects of climate change and land cover change on biogenic VOC emissions at the regional scale.


We hypothesize that climate change influences the emissions of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) and hence air quality both directly and indirectly. The direct effect is that the changes in the surface incident solar radiation and air temperature, among other variables, affect the vegetation=s capability to release BVOCs. The indirect effect is that the climate change will cause changes in the types of vegetation species as well as the prevalence of these species, thereby modulating the emission rates of BVOCs. In addition, human-driven land use change will also impact BVOC emissions. The objectives of this study are to: 1) integrate biogenic emissions modeling with land-surface biophysical and hydrological modeling into a regional climate model; 2) quantify the direct effect of climate change on biogenic emissions using Texas as a case study; 3) quantify the indirect effect of climate change on biogenic emissions using Texas as a case study; 4) investigate the potential impacts of changes in the physical climate, land cover patterns, and BVOC emissions over the next 50-100 years in Texas.


The study area focuses on the State of Texas for three main reasons. First, the State has several urban areas that fail to meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone, including the Houston/Galveston, Beaumont/Port Arthur and Dallas/Ft. Worth metropolitan areas. Second, the elevated atmospheric ozone concentrations are not limited to the urban areas, but also extend throughout the eastern half of the State of Texas, including rural areas with high biogenic hydrocarbon emissions. Third, Texas' averaged state temperatures have varied substantially over the past century, with a warming trend since the late 1960s. This significant warming trend is projected to continue into the end of the 21st century.

We will integrate the Community Land Model (CLM2), which includes a dynamic general vegetation model (DGVM), with a biogenic emission module (BEIS/GLOBEIS) to explicitly estimate BVOC emissions. The CLM2 simulates, at every time step, the exchange of water, carbon, energy, and momentum between the land surface and atmosphere through a wide range of ground and canopy bio-geophysical processes which BVOC emissions depend on. A newly mapped land use dataset with a spatial resolution of 1 km and over 600 classifications for the state of Texas, together with human-driven land use change in urban areas (Houston/Galveston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, San Antonio, and Austin), will be used to estimate BVOC emissions. The DGVM will not only simulate the interactive vegetation processes (e.g., interaction between leaf growth and precipitation) but also include vegetation competition and distribution and dynamic disturbance (typically fire). The CLM2-DGVM with the biogenic emission module will be linked first to the NCEP re-analysis data for an "off-line" sensitivity study and then to a regional climate model (MM5) for an investigation of system "feedbacks" and future climate sensitivities. Particular care will be taken to separate the effects of human-induced land use change.

Expected Results:

This research will generate two sets of complementary results. The first will provide understanding of the effects meteorological variables and land cover distributions have on the BVOC emissions at multiple scales of temporal and spatial resolution. The second will provide an integrated framework of the modeling system to quantitatively assess the effects of global change, including climate change and land use change, on regional BVOC emissions and air quality. The results of this work will help guide our response to potential climate change and land use change and, thus, provide more cost-effective allocation of federal and state environmental protection resources, as well as improve understanding of health risk and valuation.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 22 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 5 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen oxides, general circulation models, precipitation, scaling, tropospheric ozone, south central, Texas, air, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Atmospheric Sciences, Chemistry, Environmental Engineering, Monitoring/Modeling, climate change, particulate matter, Global Climate Change, aerosol formation, aerosols, air quality, air quality models, airborne aerosols, ambient aerosol, ambient air pollution, anthropogenic stress, atmospheric aerosol particles, atmospheric chemistry, atmospheric dispersion models, atmospheric models, atmospheric particulate matter, atmospheric transport, climate, climate model, climate models, climate variability, climatic influence, ecological models, environmental measurement, environmental stress, global change, greenhouse gas, greenhouse gases, meteorology., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Geographic Area, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, particulate matter, climate change, Chemistry, State, Monitoring/Modeling, Atmospheric Sciences, Ecological Risk Assessment, Environmental Engineering, anthropogenic stress, aerosol formation, ambient aerosol, atmospheric particulate matter, atmospheric dispersion models, ecosystem models, environmental monitoring, environmental measurement, meteorology, climatic influence, emissions monitoring, global change, ozone, air quality models, climate, modeling, climate models, greenhouse gases, airborne aerosols, atmospheric aerosol particles, atmospheric transport, Texas (TX), environmental stress, ecological models, climate model, greenhouse gas, monitoring organics, aerosols, atmospheric models, Global Climate Change, atmospheric chemistry, air quality, ambient air pollution

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2004 Progress Report
  • 2005 Progress Report
  • 2006 Progress Report
  • Final Report