Modeling intercontinental transport of ozone in North America with CAMx for the Air Quality Model Evaluation International Initiative (AQMEII) Phase 3
Abstract. Intercontinental ozone (O3) transport extends the geographic range of O3 air pollution impacts and makes local air pollution management more difficult. Phase 3 of the Air Quality Modeling Evaluation International Initiative (AQMEII-3) is examining the contribution of intercontinental transport to regional air quality by applying regional-scale atmospheric models jointly with global models. We investigate methods for tracing O3 from global models within regional models. The CAMx photochemical grid model was used to track contributions from boundary condition (BC) O3 over a North American modeling domain for calendar year 2010 using a built-in tracer module called RTCMC. RTCMC can track BC contributions using chemically reactive tracers and also using inert tracers in which deposition is the only sink for O3. Lack of O3 destruction chemistry in the inert tracer approach leads to overestimation biases that can exceed 10 ppb. The flexibility of RTCMC also allows tracking O3 contributions made by groups of vertical BC layers. The largest BC contributions to seasonal average daily maximum 8 h averages (MDA8) of O3 over the US are found to be from the mid-troposphere (over 40 ppb) with small contributions (a few ppb) from the upper troposphere–lower stratosphere. Contributions from the lower troposphere are shown to not penetrate very far inland. Higher contributions in the western than the eastern US, reaching an average of 57 ppb in Denver for the 30 days with highest MDA8 O3 in 2010, present a significant challenge to air quality management approaches based solely on local or US-wide emission reductions. The substantial BC contribution to MDA8 O3 in the Intermountain West means regional models are particularly sensitive to any biases and errors in the BCs. A sensitivity simulation with reduced BC O3 in response to 20 % lower emissions in Asia found a near-linear relationship between the BC O3 changes and surface O3 changes in the western US in all seasons and across the US in fall and winter. However, the surface O3 decreases are small: below 1 ppb in spring and below 0.5 ppb in other seasons.