Articles | Volume 12, issue 3
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 1597–1609, 2012
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 1597–1609, 2012

Research article 14 Feb 2012

Research article | 14 Feb 2012

Impacts of changes in land use and land cover on atmospheric chemistry and air quality over the 21st century

S. Wu1, L. J. Mickley2, J. O. Kaplan3, and D. J. Jacob2 S. Wu et al.
  • 1Atmospheric Sciences Program, Dept. of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI, USA
  • 2School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
  • 3ARVE Group, Environmental Engineering Institute, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Station 2, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland

Abstract. The effects of future land use and land cover change on the chemical composition of the atmosphere and air quality are largely unknown. To investigate the potential effects associated with future changes in vegetation driven by atmospheric CO2 concentrations, climate, and anthropogenic land use over the 21st century, we performed a series of model experiments combining a general circulation model with a dynamic global vegetation model and an atmospheric chemical-transport model. Our results indicate that climate- and CO2-induced changes in vegetation composition and density between 2100 and 2000 could lead to decreases in summer afternoon surface ozone of up to 10 ppb over large areas of the northern mid-latitudes. This is largely driven by the substantial increases in ozone dry deposition associated with increases in vegetation density in a warmer climate with higher atmospheric CO2 abundance. Climate-driven vegetation changes over the period 2000–2100 lead to general increases in isoprene emissions, globally by 15% in 2050 and 36% in 2100. These increases in isoprene emissions result in decreases in surface ozone concentrations where the NOx levels are low, such as in remote tropical rainforests. However, over polluted regions, such as the northeastern United States, ozone concentrations are calculated to increase with higher isoprene emissions in the future. Increases in biogenic emissions also lead to higher concentrations of secondary organic aerosols, which increase globally by 10% in 2050 and 20% in 2100. Summertime surface concentrations of secondary organic aerosols are calculated to increase by up to 1 μg m−3 and double for large areas in Eurasia over the period of 2000–2100. When we use a scenario of future anthropogenic land use change, we find less increase in global isoprene emissions due to replacement of higher-emitting forests by lower-emitting cropland. The global atmospheric burden of secondary organic aerosols changes little by 2100 when we account for future land use change, but both secondary organic aerosols and ozone show large regional changes at the surface.

Final-revised paper