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Impacts of changes in land use and land cover on atmospheric chemistry and air quality over the 21st century

by S. Wu, L. J. Mickley, J. O. Kaplan, D. J. Jacob
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions ()

Abstract

The effects of future land use and land cover change on the chemical composition of the atmosphere and air quality are largely unknown. To investigate the potential effects associated with future changes in vegetation driven by atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub> concentrations, climate, and anthropogenic land use over the 21st century, we performed a series of model experiments combining a general circulation model with a dynamic global vegetation model and an atmospheric chemical-transport model. Our results indicate that climate- and CO<sub>2</sub>-induced changes in vegetation composition and density could lead to decreases in summer afternoon surface ozone of up to 10 ppb over large areas of the northern mid-latitudes. This is largely driven by the substantial increases in ozone dry deposition associated with changes in the composition of temperate and boreal forests where conifer forests are replaced by those dominated by broadleaf tree types, as well as a CO<sub>2</sub>-driven increase in vegetation density. Climate-driven vegetation changes over the period 2000–2100 lead to general increases in isoprene emissions, globally by 15 % in 2050 and 36 % in 2100. These increases in isoprene emissions result in decreases in surface ozone concentrations where the NO<sub>x</sub> levels are low, such as in remote tropical rainforests. However, over polluted regions, such as the northeastern United States, ozone concentrations are calculated to increase with higher isoprene emissions in the future. Increases in biogenic emissions also lead to higher concentrations of secondary organic aerosols, which increase globally by 10 % in 2050 and 20 % in 2100. Surface concentrations of secondary organic aerosols are calculated to increase by up to 1 μg m<sup>−3</sup> for large areas in Eurasia. When we use a scenario of future anthropogenic land use change, we find less increase in global isoprene emissions due to replacement of higher-emitting forests by lower-emitting cropland. The global atmospheric burden of secondary organic aerosols changes little by 2100 when we account for future land use change, but both secondary organic aerosols and ozone show large regional changes at the surface.

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