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Air Quality

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The air we breathe contains a variety of pollutants. These gaseous and aerosol (particle) pollutants, resulting from fuel combustion and other anthropogenic activities, may be harmful to public health, vegetation, and the environment. Air pollution can also reduce visibility and influence climate. The lifetimes of air pollutants in the troposphere range from minutes to hours at the surface, and days to weeks in the free troposphere. Therefore, pollutant concentrations measured at a surface site are affected by natural as well as human-induced emissions on the local, regional, and hemispheric scale.

GFDL Research

GFDL’s global chemistry-climate models, in combination with various observations, help us to explore interactions among emissions, reactive chemistry, transport, air quality, and climate. Advancing this knowledge is crucial for designing effective control strategies to achieve a targeted level of air quality, as well as for assessing the impact of changing atmospheric composition on weather and climate.

We seek to better understand how emissions, chemical transformations, and transport and removal processes control the atmospheric abundance of gas-phase and particulate air pollutants and the associated impacts on public health, agriculture, and the environment. We study the contributions from natural sources (including biogenic emissions and transport from the stratosphere) and anthropogenic emissions to pollutant concentrations. In addition, we aim to assess the impacts of climate variability and climate change on historical and future air quality.

Featured Results


  • Meiyun Lin, A.M. Fiore, L.W. Horowitz, A.O. Langford, S. J. Oltmans, D. Tarasick, H.E. Reider. Climate variability modulates western U.S. ozone air quality in spring via deep stratospheric intrusions, Nature Communications, 6:7105, doi:10.1038/ncomms8105 , 2015
  • Rieder, H E., Arlene M Fiore, Larry W Horowitz, and Vaishali Naik, January 2015: Projecting policy-relevant metrics for high summertime ozone pollution events over the eastern United States due to climate and emission changes during the 21st century. Journal of Geophysical Research, 120(2), DOI:10.1002/2014JD022303
  • Tzung-May Fu, Yiqi Zheng, Fabien Paulot, Jingqiu Mao & Robert M. Yantosca. Positive but variable sensitivity of August surface ozone to large-scale warming in the southeast United States. Nature Climate Change 5, 454?458 (2015), doi:10.1038/nclimate2567
  • Schnell, J L., M J Prather, B Josse, Vaishali Naik, and Larry W Horowitz, et al., in press: Use of North American and European air quality networks to evaluate global chemistry-climate modeling of surface ozone. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions. DOI:10.5194/acpd-15-11369-2015.
  • R. Fine, M.B Miller; J. Burley; D. Jaffe; R. B. Pierce; Meiyun Lin; M. S Gustin. Variability and sources of surface ozone at rural sites in Nevada, USA: Results from two years of the Nevada Rural Ozone Initiative (NVROI), Science of the Total Environment, doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.12.027 (2014)
  • B. Brown-Steiner, P.G. Hess, Meiyun Lin. On the capabilities and limitations of GCCM Simulations of Summertime Regional Air Quality: A Diagnostic Analysis of Ozone and Temperature Simulations in the U.S. Using CESM and CAM-Chem, Atmospheric Environment, doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2014.11.001 (2014)
  • Clifton, O E., Arlene M Fiore, G Correa, Larry W Horowitz, and Vaishali Naik, October 2014: 21st Century Reversal of the Surface Ozone Seasonal Cycle over the Northeastern United States. Geophysical Research Letters, 41(20), DOI:10.1002/2014GL061378.
  • A.O. Langford, C.J. Senff, R.J. Alvarez II, J. Brioude, O.R. Cooper, J.S. Holloway, M.Y. Lin, R.D. Marchbanks, R.B. Pierce, S.P. Sandberg, A.M. Weickmann , E.J. Williams. An overview of the 2013 Las Vegas Ozone Study (LVOS): Impact of stratospheric intrusions and long-range transport on surface air quality. Atmospheric Environment, doi: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2014.08.040 (2014)
  • A.M. Fiore, J.T. Oberman, Meiyun Lin, L. Zhang, O.E. Clifton, D.J. Jacob, V. Naik, L.W. Horowitz, J.P. Pinto (2014): Estimating North American background ozone in U.S. surface air with two independent global models: Variability, uncertainties, and recommendations, Atmos. Environ, V96, Pages 284-300, DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2014.07.045 (2014)
  • Zoogman, P., Jacob, D. J., Chance, K., Liu, X., Lin, M., Fiore, A., and Travis, K. Monitoring high-ozone events in the US Intermountain West using TEMPO geostationary satellite observations, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 6261-6271, doi:10.5194/acp-14-6261-2014 (2014).
  • B.N. Duncan, A. I Prados, L. Lamsal, Y. Liu, D. Streets, P. Gupta, E. Hilsenrath, R. Kahn, JE Nielsen, A. Beyersdorf, S. Burton, AM Fiore, J Fishman, D Henze, C Hostetler, NA Krotkov, P. Lee, Meiyun Lin, S. Pawson, G. Pfister, KE Pickering, B. Pierce, Y. Yoshida, L. Ziemba. Satellite data of atmospheric pollution for U.S. air quality applications: Examples of applications, summary of data end-user resources, answers to FAQs, and common mistakes to avoid. Atmospheric Environment, 94, 647?662, DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2014.05.061 (2014)
  • Lapina, K., Henze, J. B. Milford, M. Huang, M.Y. Lin, A. Fiore, G. Carmichael, G. G. Pfister and K. Bowman: Assessment of source contributions to seasonal vegetative exposure to ozone in the U.S., J. Geophys. Res., DOI: 10.1002/2013JD020905, 2014
  • Fang, Y., A.M. Fiore, J.-F. Lamarque, L.W. Horowitz, and M.Y. Lin, Using synthetic tracers as a proxy for summertime PM2.5 air quality over the Northeastern United States in physical climate models, Geophys. Res. Lett., 40, 755-760, doi:10.1002/grl.50162, 2013.
  • Fang, Y., D.L. Mauzerall, J. Liu, A.M. Fiore, and L.W. Horowitz, Impacts of 21st century climate change on global air pollution-related premature mortality,Climatic Change, 121(2), DOI:10.1007/s10584-013-0847-8, 2013.
  • Fang, Y., V. Naik, L. W. Horowitz, and D. L. Mauzerall, Air pollution and associated human mortality: the role of air pollutant emissions, climate change and methane concentration increases during the industrial period, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 1377-1394, 2013. Fry, M. M., M. D. Schwarzkopf, Z. Adelman, V. Naik, W. J. Collins, and J. J. West, Net radiative forcing and air quality responses to regional CO emission reductions, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 5381-5399, doi:10.5194/acp-13-5381-2013 , 2013.
  • Mao, J., F. Paulot, D.J. Jacob, R.C. Cohen, J.D. Crounse, P.O. Wennberg, C.A. Keller, R.C. Hudman, M.P. Barkley, and L.W. Horowitz, Ozone and organic nitrates over the eastern United States: Sensitivity to isoprene chemistry, J. Geophys. Res., DOI: 10.1002/jgrd.50817, 2013.
  • Mao, J., L.W. Horowitz, V. Naik, S. Fan, J. Liu, and A.M. Fiore, Sensitivity of tropospheric oxidants to biomass burning emissions: implications for radiative forcing, Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1002/grl.50210, 2013.

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