Science Inventory

Projecting Changes in Air Quality and Health Impacts Across the U.S. at 2050 and 2090 Using Multiple Scenarios


Nolte, Chris, J. Bowden, P. Dolwick, N. Fann, B. Henderson, S. Koplitz, M. Mallard, R. Pinder, AND M. Sarofim. Projecting Changes in Air Quality and Health Impacts Across the U.S. at 2050 and 2090 Using Multiple Scenarios. 2018 AGU Fall Meeting, Washington, DC, December 10 - 14, 2018.


Climate change has been shown to worsen air quality and threaten human health. Recent advancements in modeling have improved capacity for projecting and quantifying future health effects and economic damages from climate change impacts on air quality. Long-term projections of climate impacts on ground-level ozone, particulate matter, wildfire emissions, aeroallergens, mold and dust have provided estimates of future health outcomes, including premature mortality, cardio-respiratory illnesses, asthma-related emergency department visits, lost school or work days, incidence of fungal disease, and associated economic costs. This session will discuss the projected size and distribution of climate-related human health impacts under multiple climate models and scenarios and across population subgroups. We are especially interested in cross-disciplinary quantitative estimates that characterize mid- to late-century climate-related air quality impacts by region and assess adverse health impacts among populations most susceptible and vulnerable to climate change in the United States.


Several published studies have found that for a given level of precursor pollutant emissions, climate change leads to higher concentrations of ground-level ozone over some continental regions, with resulting increases in ozone-attributable mortality. In those studies, increases in seasonal average ozone levels are often highly correlated with increases in average daily maximum temperatures. This work advances this field of research by applying a chemical transport model to two dynamically downscaled GCM simulations to examine changes in air quality due to climate change for two air pollutant emissions scenarios. Twenty-first century simulations of a high warming scenario (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5) by the NCAR/DOE CESM and NOAA GFDL CM3 global climate models are dynamically downscaled to 36 km using the Weather Research and Forecasting model. The downscaled fields are then used with the Community Multiscale Air Quality model to simulate air pollution levels in the conterminous United States for 11-year periods at the beginning, middle, and end of the 21st century. For each model and future period, changes in air quality due to changes in climate variables are analyzed for two different air pollutant emission scenarios. Changes in seasonal means of ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations are presented, as well as differences in various percentiles of the ozone distribution, and the meteorological and chemical drivers of these changes are discussed. Finally, changes in ozone and PM2.5 are used to estimate changes in mortality attributable to air pollution across the U.S.

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Record Details:

Product Published Date: 12/14/2018
Record Last Revised: 01/31/2019
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 343840