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Climate and air quality impacts due to mitigation of non-methane near-term climate forcers

Allen, R. J., Turnock, S., Nabat, P., Neubauer, D., Lohmann, U., Olivie, D., Oshima, N., Michou, M., Wu, T., Zhang, J., Takemura, T., Schulz, M., Tsigaridis, K., Bauer, S. E., Emmons, L., Horowitz, L., Naik, V., van Noije, T., Bergman, T., Lamarque, J.-F. , Zanis, P., Tegen, I., Westervelt, D. M., Le Sager, P., Good, P., Shim, S., O'Connor, F., Akritidis, D., Georgoulias, A. K., Deushi, M., Sentman, L. T., John, J., Fujimori, S. and Collins, W. J. ORCID: (2020) Climate and air quality impacts due to mitigation of non-methane near-term climate forcers. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 20 (16). pp. 9641-9663. ISSN 1680-7316

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To link to this item DOI: 10.5194/acp-20-9641-2020


Over the next few decades, policies that optimally address both climate change and air quality are essential. Although targeting near-term climate forcers (NTCFs), defined here as aerosols, tropospheric ozone and precursor gases (but not methane), should improve air quality, NTCF reductions will also impact climate. How future policies affect the abundance of NTCFs and their impact on climate and air quality remains uncertain. Here, we quantify the 2015–2055 climate and air quality effects of non-methane NTCFs using state-of-the-art chemistry-climate model simulations conducted for the Aerosol and Chemistry Model Intercomparison Project (AerChemMIP). Simulations are driven by two future scenarios featuring similar increases in greenhouse gases (GHGs) but with weak versus strong levels of air quality control measures. Unsurprisingly, we find significant improvements in air quality under NTCF mitigation (strong versus weak air quality controls). Surface ozone (O3) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) decrease by −15 % and −25 %, respectively, over global land surfaces, with larger reductions in some regions including south and southeast Asia. Non-methane NTCF mitigation, however, leads to additional climate change due to the removal of aerosol which causes a net warming effect, including global mean surface temperature and precipitation increases of 0.24 K and 1.1 %, respectively, with similar increases in extreme weather indices. Regionally, the largest warming and wetting trends occur over Asia, including central and north Asia (0.56 K and 2.1 %), south Asia (0.48 K and 4.6 %) and east Asia (0.44 K and 4.7 %). Relatively large warming and wetting of the Arctic also occurs at 0.41 K and 2.1 %, respectively. Similar surface warming occurs in model simulations with aerosol-only mitigation, implying weak cooling due to ozone reductions. Our findings suggest that future policies that aggressively target non-methane NTCF reductions will improve air quality, but will lead to additional surface warming, particularly in Asia and the Arctic. Policies that address other NTCFs including methane, as well as carbon dioxide emissions, must also be adopted to meet mitigation goals.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:91727
Publisher:Copernicus Publications


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