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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-1211
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-1211
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  21 Jan 2020

21 Jan 2020

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A revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal ACP and is expected to appear here in due course.

Historical and future changes in air pollutants from CMIP6 models

Steven T. Turnock1, Robert J. Allen2, Martin Andrews1, Susanne E. Bauer3,4, Louisa Emmons5, Peter Good1, Larry Horowitz6, Martine Michou7, Pierre Nabat7, Vaishali Naik6, David Neubauer8, Fiona M. O'Connor1, Dirk Olivié9, Michael Schulz9, Alistair Sellar1, Toshihiko Takemura10, Simone Tilmes5, Kostas Tsigaridis3,4, Tongwen Wu11, and Jie Zhang11 Steven T. Turnock et al.
  • 1Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, UK
  • 2Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California Riverside, Riverside, California, USA
  • 3Center for Climate Systems Research, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
  • 4NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY, USA
  • 5Atmospheric Chemistry Observations and Modelling Lab, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 6DOC/NOAA/OAR/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. Biogeochemistry, Atmospheric Chemistry, and Ecology Division, Princeton, USA
  • 7Centre National de Recherches Météorologiques (CNRM), Université de Toulouse, Météo‐France, CNRS, Toulouse, France
  • 8Institute of Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 9Division for Climate Modelling and Air Pollution, Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Oslo, Norway
  • 10Research Institute for Applied Mechanics, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan
  • 11Beijing Climate Center, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, China

Abstract. Poor air quality is currently responsible for large impacts on human health across the world. In addition, the air pollutants, ozone (O3) and particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5), are also radiatively active in the atmosphere and can influence Earth’s climate. It is important to understand the effect of air quality and climate mitigation measures over the historical period and in different future scenarios to ascertain any impacts from air pollutants on both climate and human health. The 6th Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) presents an opportunity to analyse the change in air pollutants simulated by the current generation of climate and Earth system models that include a representation of chemistry and aerosols (particulate matter). The shared socio-economic pathways (SSPs) used within CMIP6 encompass a wide range of trajectories in precursor emissions and climate change, allowing for an improved analysis of future changes to air pollutants. Firstly, we conduct an evaluation of the available CMIP6 models against surface observations of O3 and PM2.5. CMIP6 models show a consistent overestimation of observed surface O3 concentrations across most regions and in most seasons, with a large diversity in simulated values over northern hemisphere continental regions. Conversely, observed surface PM2.5 concentrations are consistently underestimated by CMIP6 models, particularly for the northern hemisphere winter months, with the largest model diversity near natural emission source regions. Over the historical period (1850–2014) large increases in both surface O3 and PM2.5 are simulated by the CMIP6 models across all regions, particularly over the mid to late 20th Century when anthropogenic emissions increase markedly. Large regional historical changes are simulated for both pollutants, across East and South Asia, with an increase of up to 40 ppb for O3 and 12 µg m-3 for PM2.5. In future scenarios containing strong air quality and climate mitigation measures (ssp126), air pollutants are substantially reduced across all regions by up to 15 ppb for O3 and 12 µg m-3 for PM2.5. However, for scenarios that encompass weak action on mitigating climate and reducing air pollutant emissions (ssp370), increases of both surface O3 (up 10 ppb) and PM2.5 (up to 8 µg m-3) are simulated across most regions. Although, for regions like North America and Europe small reductions in PM2.5 are simulated in this scenario. A comparison of simulated regional changes in both surface O3 and PM2.5 from individual CMIP6 models highlights important differences due to the interaction of aerosols, chemistry, climate and natural emission sources within models. The prediction of regional air pollutant concentrations from the latest climate and Earth system models used within CMIP6 shows that the particular future trajectory of climate and air quality mitigation measures could have important consequences for regional air quality, human health and near-term climate. Differences between individual models emphasises the importance of understanding how future Earth system feedbacks influence natural emission sources.

Steven T. Turnock et al.

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Steven T. Turnock et al.

Steven T. Turnock et al.

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Latest update: 21 Oct 2020
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Short summary
A first assessment is made of the historical and future changes in air pollutants from models participating in the 6th Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6). Substantial benefits to future air quality can be achieved in future scenarios that implement measures to mitigate climate, as well as reductions in air pollutant emissions, particularly methane. Important differences in the future prediction of air pollutants are shown between models over certain regions.
A first assessment is made of the historical and future changes in air pollutants from models...
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