2013 Progress Report: Regional Infrastructure and Air Quality Planning in Light of Global Change

EPA Grant Number: R834283
Title: Regional Infrastructure and Air Quality Planning in Light of Global Change
Investigators: Hess, Peter , Donaghy, Kieran P. , Mahowald, Natalie M. , Zhang, Ke Max
Institution: Cornell University
EPA Project Officer: Callan, Richard
Project Period: October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2012 (Extended to September 30, 2015)
Project Period Covered by this Report: October 1, 2012 through September 30,2013
Project Amount: $591,683
RFA: Adaptation for Future Air Quality Analysis and Decision Support Tools in Light of Global Change Impacts and Mitigation (2008) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air Quality and Air Toxics , Global Climate Change , Climate Change , Air


The purpose of the research is to: 1) determine how changes exogeneous to the U.S. including changes in climate, changes in emissions and changes in the global economy will impact U.S. air quality over the Northeastern region of the United States in the future;2) determine how long-term changes in transportation infrastructure, technology and power generation in response to future economic and regulatory changes (including those induced by climate change) will induce communities within the Northeastern U.S. to make regional scale changes in land-use, transportation and spatial interaction to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and thus modify regional air-quality.

Progress Summary:

In the past year we have used a dynamic commodity-flow model to estimate the gridded emissions of black carbon due to the transportation over the Northeast U.S. The time series of freight shipment over the Northeastern US have been combined with emission factors from the EPA MOVES model to produce yearly gridded emissions from freight shipments between 9 states and 13 sectors. This dynamic commodity-flow model characterizes the evolution over space and time of the interdependent behaviors of producers (shippers) and carriers and their associated emissions. The power of this model is that it provides the capability, heretofore missing, to forecast the evolution of emissions patterns resulting from structural changes in the economic geography of a set of regions, from which regional air quality forecasts can then be made. The model solution was able to satisfactorily reproduce differences between the imputed historical data in commodity flows over the 31 years for which we have data when compared for five states in the Midwestern region and the Rest of the U.S. The emissions are currently being input into a chemical transport model so as to simulate the resulting atmospheric of the black carbon.
We have run a number of control simulations diagnosing the ability of the CESM 1.0 (Community Earth System Model 1.0) to simulate the regional climate and chemistry over the Northeastern U.S. We find that temperature biases in the CESM are often associated with differences biases in cloudiness. The associated changes in photolysis rates and isoprene have a strong impact on chemistry resulting in significant biases in surface layer chemistry. These must be accounted for in interpreting the results. Model formulation, and in particular the number of vertical layers, needs to be carefully considered. Online simulations using a 56-layer model were markedly better than the online simulations using 26 layer models and appeared to alleviate much of the temperature difference between simulated and measured temperature. The formulation of offline models, particularly in the boundary layer needs to be scrutinized. We hypothesize that issues with boundary layer formulation in offline models need to be addressed to correctly simulate the response of ozone to temperature. Finally, we find that that the models driven with GCM winds overestimate the return frequency of extreme events. This work paves the way for an examination of the impact of emissions from commodity flows in future scenarios.

Future Activities:

Future activities include (i) evaluation of historical gridded black carbon transportation emissions produced from a dynamic commodity-flow model over the Northeast U.S. and an examination and analysis of the impacts of these emissions in the Community Earth System Model (CESM); (ii) employing the dynamic commodity flow model to continue to refine future emission scenarios on regional and local scales over the Northeast U.S.; (iii) running the Community Earth System Model in future and present-day configurations using emissions generated from the dynamic commodity flow model.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 16 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Energy, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Environmental Monitoring, Atmospheric Sciences, Atmosphere, atmospheric nitrogen, particulate matter, decision making, energy efficiency, environmental policy, forests, deforestation, ecosystem sustainability, air quality, Global Climate Change, land use

Relevant Websites:

http://www.bee.cornell.edu/cals/bee/people/hess.cfm ;

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2010 Progress Report
  • 2011 Progress Report
  • 2012 Progress Report
  • 2014
  • Final Report