Responses of surface ozone air quality to anthropogenic nitrogen deposition in the Northern Hemisphere
Abstract. Human activities have substantially increased atmospheric deposition of reactive nitrogen to the Earth's surface, inducing unintentional effects on ecosystems with complex environmental and climate consequences. One consequence remaining unexplored is how surface air quality might respond to the enhanced nitrogen deposition through surface–atmosphere exchange. Here we combine a chemical transport model (GEOS-Chem) and a global land model (Community Land Model, CLM) to address this issue with a focus on ozone pollution in the Northern Hemisphere. We consider three processes that are important for surface ozone and can be perturbed by the addition of atmospheric deposited nitrogen – namely, emissions of biogenic volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ozone dry deposition, and soil nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. We find that present-day anthropogenic nitrogen deposition (65 Tg N a−1 to the land), through enhancing plant growth (represented as increases in vegetation leaf area index, LAI, in the model), could increase surface ozone from increased biogenic VOC emissions (e.g., a 6.6 Tg increase in isoprene emission), but it could also decrease ozone due to higher ozone dry deposition velocities (up to 0.02–0.04 cm s−1 increases). Meanwhile, deposited anthropogenic nitrogen to soil enhances soil NOx emissions. The overall effect on summer mean surface ozone concentrations shows general increases over the globe (up to 1.5–2.3 ppbv over the western US and South Asia), except for some regions with high anthropogenic NOx emissions (0.5–1.0 ppbv decreases over the eastern US, western Europe, and North China). We compare the surface ozone changes with those driven by the past 20-year climate and historical land use changes. We find that the impacts from anthropogenic nitrogen deposition can be comparable to the climate- and land-use-driven surface ozone changes at regional scales and partly offset the surface ozone reductions due to land use changes reported in previous studies. Our study emphasizes the complexity of biosphere–atmosphere interactions, which can have important implications for future air quality prediction.