2016 Progress Report: Integrated Analysis of Land Use-Based Policies for Improving Air and Water Quality: A Focus on Agricultural Reactive Nitrogen and Wildland Fire Emissions as Climate, Land Use and Anthropogenic Emissions Change

EPA Grant Number: R835880
Title: Integrated Analysis of Land Use-Based Policies for Improving Air and Water Quality: A Focus on Agricultural Reactive Nitrogen and Wildland Fire Emissions as Climate, Land Use and Anthropogenic Emissions Change
Investigators: Russell, Armistead G. , Burtraw, Dallas , Driscoll, Charles T. , Odman, Mehmet Talat , Shih, Jhih-Shyang , Siikamäki, Juha , Smith, Richard
Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology , Resources for the Future , Syracuse University , United States Geological Survey [USGS]
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2018
Project Period Covered by this Report: January 1, 2016 through December 31,2016
Project Amount: $789,820
RFA: Particulate Matter and Related Pollutants in a Changing World (2014) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air Quality and Air Toxics , Air


Agriculture-related reactive nitrogen and wildland fire emissions are playing an increasingly more prominent role in the formation of atmospheric particulate matter. Those sources also can impact water quality and ecosystem structure and function through the deposition of reactive nitrogen to sensitive environments. While nitrogen and sulfur oxides and organic emissions are being markedly curtailed by traditional control strategies, alternative approaches are needed to address reduced nitrogen and fire emissions. Land use-based policies can be an attractive approach to improve air quality with the co-benefit of decreasing reactive nitrogen deposition and improving water quality. An integrated modeling framework will be developed to investigate a range of land use based policies to mitigate particulate matter levels, atmospheric deposition and associated impacts on water quality and sensitive ecosystems. Land use policies will be assessed across multiple environmental endpoints of concern, with a focus on identifying cost effective strategies and those with benefits in one or more media.

Progress Summary:

During this reporting period, work has focused on model setups, land use projection, emission change evaluation related with land use change, and model simulation of land-use-change impacts on concentrations and deposition:

CMAQ simulation with the NH3 bidirectional exchange setting: The Fertilizer Emission Scenario Tool for CMAQ (FEST-C) was used to simulate daily fertilizer application information using the Environmental Policy Integrated Climate (EPIC) model and to extract the EPIC daily output that is a required input for bidirectional NH3 modeling performed using the Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) modeling system (CMAQ-BIDI). Model evaluation on the modeled outputs from CMAQ performance with and without NH3 bidirectional exchange setting was conducted and compared against the observed NH3 concentrations and depositions for the year 2011. The evaluation highlighted an enhanced agreement between simulation and observation when using CMAQ-BIDI setting. The CMAQ-BIDI was used to identify NH3 emissions from fertilizer application and to evaluate the impacts of land use and climate changes on NH3 emissions from this source in the succeeding project research. Model evaluation was also conducted for other reactive nitrogen compounds including NO2 (concentration) and HNO3/NO3 (wet/dry deposition) for the whole U.S. domain. The modeled results generally agreed well with observations.

Future business-as-usual land use projection:  Determining a proper land use projection is one of the major components of the project. RFF and USGS are working on development of a business-as-usual future land use data set. The work is in progress, but expected to be finished by the end of summer of 2017.

Evaluation of land use change impacts on pollutants emissions, concentrations, and wet/dry depositions:  For evaluating the land use change impacts on emissions, different sources are associated with different procedures. Our first step which has been accomplished during the report period focused on the land use change impacts only. The emission changes in a specified land use type are proportional to the land use area changes. We considered emissions from agriculture fertilizer application, wildland and prescribed fires as well as biogenic emissions and agriculture waste open burning. CMAQ-BIDI was directly applied to online evaluation of the land use change impact on emissions from fertilizer application. The Biogenic Emission Inventory System version 3.6 (BEIS3.6) was used to evaluate the impact on biogenic emissions. The changes in fire emissions including wildland/prescribed fire and agriculture waste burning were treated to be proportional to the changes in forest and crop land areas, respectively. LandCarbon dataset reported by USGS was temporarily used to address future land use change. Based on the emission assessment, we evaluated the land use change impacts on air concentrations and wet/dry depositions of reactive nitrogen compounds. The results indicated that future land use tends to enhance N emissions from the land-use-related sources and thus increases concentrations and deposition fluxes of reactive nitrogen compounds to the water. Fertilizer application and biogenic soil emissions are major sources for the increased nitrogen emissions.

Involving longer-term changes in the assessment: Our second step is to evaluate the impacts with consideration of future climate change. The work is in progress. Climate change may modify the surface soil properties and vegetation characteristics such as gas flux velocity, fuel intensity and flammability, and thus weaken the suitability of our assessment from the first step in the future. Therefore, we also conducted our assessment under future climate conditions based on the IPCC RCP4.5 scenario. To assess the impacts on fertilizer application emissions, the CMAQ-BIDI was driven by the meteorological fields during the current 5-year (2006-2010) and future 5-year (2048-2050) periods. Fire emission intensity change due to climate change between these two periods were obtained from the Community Earth System Model (CESM).

Future Activities:

Continue work on future land use projection; continue work on evaluation the land use change impacts on emissions with consideration of future climate change; and develop CMAQ/SPARROW/LnET model systems to assess the impacts on both air and water quality due to land use change.

Supplemental Keywords:

Reactive nitrogen species, PM2.5, land use change, climate change, pollutants emissions, air and water quality