Effects of ozone–vegetation coupling on surface ozone air quality via biogeochemical and meteorological feedbacks
Abstract. Tropospheric ozone is one of the most hazardous air pollutants as it harms both human health and plant productivity. Foliage uptake of ozone via dry deposition damages photosynthesis and causes stomatal closure. These foliage changes could lead to a cascade of biogeochemical and biogeophysical effects that not only modulate the carbon cycle, regional hydrometeorology and climate, but also cause feedbacks onto surface ozone concentration itself. In this study, we implement a semi-empirical parameterization of ozone damage on vegetation in the Community Earth System Model to enable online ozone–vegetation coupling, so that for the first time ecosystem structure and ozone concentration can coevolve in fully coupled land–atmosphere simulations. With ozone–vegetation coupling, present-day surface ozone is simulated to be higher by up to 4–6 ppbv over Europe, North America and China. Reduced dry deposition velocity following ozone damage contributes to ∼ 40–100 % of those increases, constituting a significant positive biogeochemical feedback on ozone air quality. Enhanced biogenic isoprene emission is found to contribute to most of the remaining increases, and is driven mainly by higher vegetation temperature that results from lower transpiration rate. This isoprene-driven pathway represents an indirect, positive meteorological feedback. The reduction in both dry deposition and transpiration is mostly associated with reduced stomatal conductance following ozone damage, whereas the modification of photosynthesis and further changes in ecosystem productivity are found to play a smaller role in contributing to the ozone–vegetation feedbacks. Our results highlight the need to consider two-way ozone–vegetation coupling in Earth system models to derive a more complete understanding and yield more reliable future predictions of ozone air quality.