Effects of emissions change, climate change and long-range transport on regional modeling of future U.S. particulate matter pollution and speciation

Hao He, Xin Zhong Liang, Donald J. Wuebbles

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This study investigates the future U.S. PM2.5 pollution under multiple emissions scenarios, climate states, and long-range transport (LRT) effects using the regional Community Multi-scale Air Quality (CMAQ) model integrated with a regional climate model. CMAQ with fixed chemical lateral boundary conditions (LBCs) successfully reproduces the present-day PM2.5 pollution and its major species in rural and suburban areas, but has some discrepancies in urban areas such as the Los Angeles Basin, where detailed emissions and meteorology conditions cannot be resolved by the 30 km grid. Its performance is slightly worsened when using dynamic chemical LBCs from global chemical transport model (CTM) simulations, which provide cleaner conditions into the CMAQ lateral boundaries. Under future Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emission scenarios, CMAQ projects large PM2.5 reductions (∼40% for A1B and ∼20% for A1Fi scenario) in the eastern United States, but slight to moderate increases (∼5% for A1B and ∼10% for A1Fi) in the western United States. The projected increases are particularly large (up to 30%) near the Mexico-U.S. border, suggesting that Mexico is a major source for future U.S. PM2.5 pollution. The effect from climate change alone is estimated to increase PM2.5 levels ubiquitously (∼5% for both A1B and A1Fi) over the United States, except for a small decrease in the Houston, Texas area, where anthropogenic non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) emissions dominate. This climate penalty, however, is substantially smaller than effects of emissions change, especially in the eastern United States. Future PM2.5 pollution is affected substantially (up to −20%) by changes in SO2 emissions and moderately (3–5%) by changes in NOx and NH3 emissions. The long-range transport (LRT) effects, which are estimated by comparing CMAQ simulations with fixed and dynamic LBCs, are regional dependent, causing up to 10–20% decrease over the western United States in future summertime PM2.5 pollution. Therefore, it is important to consider the relative contributions of emissions scenarios, climate conditions, and LRT to the major PM2.5 components in future U.S. air quality regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-176
Number of pages11
JournalAtmospheric Environment
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Future projections
  • PM species
  • Regional modeling
  • Sensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science

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