Effects of Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Strategies on Air Quality

EPA Grant Number: R834284
Title: Effects of Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Strategies on Air Quality
Investigators: Brouwer, Jacob , Dabdub, Donald
Institution: University of California - Irvine
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: December 1, 2009 through November 30, 2012 (Extended to November 30, 2013)
Project Amount: $600,000
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: Global Climate Change , Air Quality and Air Toxics , Climate Change , Air


The main goal of this project is to evaluate the air quality impacts of climate change and greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation strategies in 2050. Detailed air quality model sensitivity analyses and model modifications will be required to adapt the simulation capabilities to account for climate change impacts on air quality. In addition, previously developed methodologies for predicting future spatially and temporally resolved emissions fields will be advanced to accurately account for air pollutant emissions impacts of likely GHG mitigation strategies. This will be followed by simulations of atmospheric chemistry and transport in a set of air quality models to determine air quality impacts of GHG mitigation strategies. The project will focus on two representative regions of the United States: California and the Northeastern US. These two regions are likely to lead the nation in limiting GHG emissions and are already developing plans that delineate potential GHG mitigation strategies. In addition, the various mitigation strategies that are likely to be adopted in these regions will affect pollutant emissions fields in these regions that are typically plagued by poor air quality.


The proposed effort will apply rigorous, peer-reviewed, and scientifically sound analysis techniques to quantify the changes in pollutant emissions and the resulting air quality impacts caused by global climate change and GHG mitigation policies. Crucial to the analyses proposed are three quantitative analyses processes: (1) rigorous determination of climate change impacts on regional air quality modeling to enable model adaptation, (2) regional pollutant emissions quantification due to technological changes that result from GHG mitigation strategies, and (3) detailed regional air quality modeling to assess environmental impacts. Rigorous analyses of model sensitivity to climate change, to spatial and temporal emissions fields, and to the air quality impacts are required to deliver the desired understanding.


The project will assess the baseline air quality in selected US regions in the year 2050, accounting for expected (and unexpected) changes in climate and increases in commercial and industrial activity globally, and in particular in South East Asia, which can affect background pollutant concentrations reaching the US. Sensitivity analyses that account for various changes that can be forced by climate change (e.g., temperature, evaporative emissions, and biogenic emissions) will be used to identify the most important considerations for model adaptation to account for the effects of climate change. In addition, this study will develop a broad set of future scenarios for greenhouse gas mitigation strategies that account for the spatial and temporal distribution of all major emissions sources. The foci of the mitigation strategies used in the scenario development will be (1) transportation and (2) electrical power generation, since these two sectors account for the majority global GHG emissions and are featured prominently in proposed GHG mitigation strategies. Finally, air quality impacts of GHG mitigation strategies will be evaluated using state-of-the-art air quality models. The ultimate goal of this project is to develop air quality simulation strategies that accurately account for climate change and to determine the most effective GHG mitigation strategies that can concurrently improve air quality.

Expected Results:

The proposed project will assess potential GHG emission reduction strategies that are specific to certain regions of the US. Each region will require specific mitigation strategies, depending upon the particular environmental issues each region faces. Detailed sensitivity analyses of state-of-the-art regional air quality models will establish the means by which effects of climate change can be rigorously incorporated into future assessments of air quality. Specific adaptations of the modeling tools will be recommended to enable more accurate simulation of air quality under conditions in which climate change occurs. In addition, this study will rigorously produce a set of spatially and temporally resolved emissions inventories for various future scenarios that will be used in regional air quality models. Regional air quality simulations will then assess the regional air quality impacts associated with each of the scenarios that considered various GHG mitigation strategies in the two regions of the US considered. The set of emissions inventories will span the spectrum of plausible future scenarios and will provide a scientific basis for decision makers to select and pursue the most effective mitigation strategies that could also have most positive impacts on air quality.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 8 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 1 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Electricity generation, transportation, ozone, particulate matter, California, Northeast,, RFA, Air, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Atmosphere, air quality modeling

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2010 Progress Report
  • 2011 Progress Report
  • 2012 Progress Report
  • Final Report