Impacts of future land use and land cover change on mid-21st-century surface ozone air quality: distinguishing between the biogeophysical and biogeochemical effects

Lang Wang, Amos P. K. Tai*, Chi-Yung Tam, Mehliyar Sadiq, Peng Wang, Kevin K. W. Cheung

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)
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    Surface ozone (O3) is an important air pollutant and greenhouse gas. Land use and land cover is one of the critical factors influencing ozone, in addition to anthropogenic emissions and climate. Land use and land cover change (LULCC) can on the one hand affect ozone "biogeochemically", i.e., via dry deposition and biogenic emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). LULCC can on the other hand alter regional-to large-scale climate through modifying albedo and evapotranspiration, which can lead to changes in surface temperature, hydrometeorology, and atmospheric circulation that can ultimately impact ozone "biogeophysically". Such biogeophysical effects of LULCC on ozone are largely understudied. This study investigates the individual and combined biogeophysical and biogeochemical effects of LULCC on ozone and explicitly examines the critical pathway for how LULCC impacts ozone pollution. A global coupled atmosphere chemistry land model is driven by projected LULCC from the present day (2000) to the future (2050) under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios, focusing on the boreal summer. Results reveal that when considering biogeochemical effects only, surface ozone is predicted to have slight changes by up to 2 ppbv maximum in some areas due to LULCC. It is primarily driven by changes in isoprene emission and dry deposition counteracting each other in shaping ozone. In contrast, when considering the combined effect of LULCC, ozone is more substantially altered by up to 5 ppbv over several regions in North America and Europe under RCP4.5, reflecting the importance of biogeophysical effects on ozone changes. In boreal and temperate mixed forests with intensive reforestation, enhanced net radiation and sensible heat induce a cascade of hydrometeorological feedbacks that generate warmer and drier conditions favorable for higher ozone levels. In contrast, reforestation in subtropical broadleaf forests has minimal impacts on boundary-layer meteorology and ozone air quality. Furthermore, significant ozone changes are also found in regions with only modest LULCC, which can only be explained by "remote" biogeophysical effects. A likely mechanism is that reforestation induces a circulation response, leading to reduced moisture transport and ultimately warmer and drier conditions in the surrounding regions with limited LULCC. We conclude that the biogeophysical effects of LULCC are important pathways through which LULCC influences ozone air quality both locally and in remote regions even without significant LULCC. Overlooking the effects of hydrometeorological changes on ozone air quality may cause underestimation of the impacts of LULCC on ozone pollution.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)11349-11369
    Number of pages21
    JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
    Issue number19
    Publication statusPublished - 2020

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    Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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