A summer simulation of biogenic contributions to ground-level ozone over the continental United States

Zhining Tao, Susan M. Larson, Donald J. Wuebbles, Allen Williams, Michael Caughey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The role of biogenic emissions in the production of ground-level ozone has been the subject of considerable scientific investigation. However, because existing studies generally draw their conclusions from simulations of episodes lasting days to a week, there is a need to evaluate the biogenic impact over a relatively long timescale. Moreover, the magnitude of synergistic interaction between anthropogenic and biogenic emissions should be carefully quantified, and this issue is not accounted for in most previous investigations. In this study, we performed a summer seasonal (June to August 1995) model evaluation of surface ozone across the continental United States. A three-dimensional regional climate, emissions, and air quality modeling system was used to do the simulations. The factor separation (FS) technique was applied to quantify the contributions from biogenic emissions alone and those from the synergy between anthropogenic and biogenic emissions. In the first step of this study, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Emission Trends (NET) 1996 and 2020 "control case" raw anthropogenic emissions inventories were processed through Sparse Matrix Operator Kernel Emissions (SMOKE), an emissions model, to generate the speciated, gridded, and hourly emissions data needed for the air quality model. Next, six air quality simulations were carried out assuming zero emissions, biogenic only emissions, 1995 anthropogenic only emissions, biogenic plus 1995 anthropogenic emissions, 2020 anthropogenic only emissions, and biogenic plus 2020 anthropogenic emissions. The model results show that ground-level ozone concentrations decrease moderately under the EPA's 2020 emissions scenario for many areas within the continental United States, with large reductions in vast areas of the eastern United States. They also show that the 1995 summer average "total biogenic contribution" to daily maximum surface ozone concentrations can reach 34 ppb. Biogenic emissions are associated with at least 20% of surface ozone concentrations for the most areas of the continental United States, with the peaks reaching more than 40% in California coastal areas, the southeastern states, and northeastern areas. A sizable portion of this "total biogenic contribution," however, (up to 80% in some areas) is due to the synergy between anthropogenic and biogenic emissions and would thus be influenced by controls on anthropogenic source emissions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)ACH 2-1 - ACH 2-19
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number14
StatePublished - 2003


  • Biogenic emissions
  • Factor separation
  • Ground-level ozone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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