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  • Author or Editor: Sara A. Rauscher x
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Cristina L. Archer
,
Joseph F. Brodie
, and
Sara A. Rauscher

Abstract

The goal of this study is to evaluate the effects of anthropogenic climate change on air quality, in particular on ozone, during the summer in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region. First, we establish a connection between high-ozone (HO) days, defined as those with observed 8-h average ozone concentration greater than 70 parts per billion (ppb), and certain weather patterns, called synoptic types. We identify four summer synoptic types that most often are associated with HO days based on a 30-yr historical period (1986–2015) using NCEP–NCAR reanalysis. Second, we define thresholds for mean near-surface temperature and precipitation that characterize HO days during the four HO synoptic types. Next, we look at climate projections from five models from phase 5 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) for the early and late midcentury (2025–34 and 2045–54) and analyze the frequency of HO days. We find a general increasing trend, weaker in the early midcentury and stronger in the late midcentury, with 2 and 5 extra HO days per year, respectively, from 16 in 2015. These 5 extra days are the result of two processes. On one hand, the four HO synoptic types will increase in frequency, which explains about 1.5–2 extra HO days. The remaining 3–3.5 extra days are explained by the increase in near-surface temperatures during the HO synoptic types. Future air quality regulations, which have been successful in the historical period at reducing ozone concentrations in the mid-Atlantic, may need to become stricter to compensate for the underlying increasing trends from global warming.

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