Impacts of compound extreme weather events on ozone in the present and future

Zhang, Junxi; Gao, Yang; Luo, Kun; Leung, L. Ruby; Zhang, Yang; Wang, Kai; Fan, Jianren

The Weather Research and Forecasting model coupled with Chemistry (WRF-Chem) was used to study the effect of extreme weather events on ozone in the US for historical (2001–2010) and future (2046–2055) periods under the RCP8.5 scenario. During extreme weather events, including heat waves, atmospheric stagnation, and their compound events, ozone concentration is much higher compared to the non-extreme events period. A striking enhancement of effect during compound events is revealed when heat wave and stagnation occur simultaneously as both high temperature and low wind speed promote the production of high ozone concentrations. In regions with high emissions, compound extreme events can shift the high-end tails of the probability density functions (PDFs) of ozone to even higher values to generate extreme ozone episodes. In regions with low emissions, extreme events can still increase high-ozone frequency but the high-end tails of the PDFs are constrained by the low emissions. Despite the large anthropogenic emission reduction projected for the future, compound events increase ozone more than the single events by 10 to 13 %, comparable to the present, and high-ozone episodes with a maximum daily 8 h average (MDA8) ozone concentration over 70 ppbv are not eliminated. Using the CMIP5 multi-model ensemble, the frequency of compound events is found to increase more dominantly compared to the increased frequency of single events in the future over the US, Europe, and China. High-ozone episodes will likely continue in the future due to increases in both frequency and intensity of extreme events, despite reductions in anthropogenic emissions of its precursors. However, the latter could reduce or eliminate extreme ozone episodes; thus improving projections of compound events and their impacts on extreme ozone may better constrain future projections of extreme ozone episodes that have detrimental effects on human health.

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Zhang, Junxi / Gao, Yang / Luo, Kun / et al: Impacts of compound extreme weather events on ozone in the present and future. 2018. Copernicus Publications.

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