Office of Research and Development Publications

"Investigation of Trends in Aerosol Direct Radiative Effects over North America Using a Coupled Meteorology-Chemistry Model"


Mathur, R., Jon Pleim, David-C Wong, C. Hogrefe, J. Xing, C. Wei, AND M. Gan. "Investigation of Trends in Aerosol Direct Radiative Effects over North America Using a Coupled Meteorology-Chemistry Model". Presented at International Technical Meeting on Air Pollution Modeling and its Application, Aventura, FL, August 26 - 31, 2013.


The National Exposure Research Laboratory (NERL) Atmospheric Modeling and Analysis Division (AMAD) conducts research in support of EPA mission to protect human health and the environment. AMAD research program is engaged in developing and evaluating predictive atmospheric models on all spatial and temporal scales for forecasting the 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.


While aerosol radiative effects have been recognized as some of the largest sources of uncertainty among the forcers of climate change, there has been little effort devoted to verification of the spatial and temporal variability of the magnitude and directionality of aerosol radiative forcing. A comprehensive investigation of the processes regulating aerosol distributions, their optical properties, and their radiative effects and verification of their simulated effects for past conditions relative to measurements is needed in order to build confidence in the estimates of the projected impacts arising from changes in both anthropogenic forcing and climate change. This study aims at addressing this issue through a systematic investigation of changes in anthropogenic emissions of SO2 and NOx over the past two decades in the United States, their impacts on anthropogenic aerosol loading in the North American troposphere, and subsequent impacts on regional radiation budgets. During the period 1990-2010, SO2 and NOx emissions across the US have reduced by about 66% and 50%, respectively, mainly due to Title IV of the U.S. Clean Air Act Amendments (CAA). A methodology is developed to consistently estimate emission inventories for the 20-year period accounting for air quality regulations as well as population trends, economic conditions, and technology changes in motor vehicles and electric power generation. The coupled WRF-CMAQ model is applied for time periods pre and post the implementation of these emission changes over a domain covering the continental U.S. The model includes detailed treatment of direct effects of aerosols on photolysis rates as well as on shortwave radiation. Additionally, treatment of aerosol indirect effects on clouds has also recently been implemented. Analysis of measurements of aerosol composition, radiation, and associated variables, over the past two decades will be presented which indicate significant reductions in the tropospheric aerosol burden as well as an increase in down-welling shortwave radiation at numerous sites across the U.S. Initial applications of the coupled WRF-CMAQ model for time-periods pre and post the implementation of CAA Title IV will be discussed and comparisons with measurements to assess the model’s ability to capture trends in aerosol burden, composition, and direct aerosol effects on surface shortwave radiation will be presented.



Record Details:

Product Published Date: 08/31/2013
Record Last Revised: 06/16/2014
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 278242