Comprehensively assessing the drivers of future air quality in California.

Affiliation

Computational Environmental Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

In this study we analyze the impact of major drivers of future air quality, both separately and simultaneously, for the year 2035 in three major California air basins: the South Coast Air Basin (SoCAB), the San Francisco Bay Area (SFBA), and the San Joaquin Valley (SJV). A variety of scenarios are considered based on changes in climate-driven meteorological conditions and both biogenic and anthropogenic emissions. Anthropogenic emissions are based on (1) the California Air Resources Board (CARB) California Emissions Projection Analysis Model (CEPAM), (2) increases in electric sector emissions due to climate change, and (3) aggressive adoption of alternative energy technologies electrification of end-use technologies, and energy efficiency measures. Results indicate that climate-driven changes in meteorological conditions will significantly alter day-to-day variations in future ozone and PM2.5 concentrations, likely increasing the frequency and severity of pollution periods in regions that already experience poor air quality and increasing health risks from pollutant exposure. Increases in biogenic and anthropogenic emissions due to climate change are important during the summer seasons, but have little effect on pollutant concentrations during the winter. Results also indicate that controlling anthropogenic emissions will play a critical role in mitigating climate-driven increases in both ozone and PM2.5 concentrations in the most populated areas of California. In the absence of anthropogenic emissions controls, climate change will worsen ozone air quality throughout the state, increasing exceedances of ambient air quality standards. If planned reductions in anthropogenic emissions are implemented, ozone air quality throughout the less urban areas of the state may be improved in the year 2035, but regions such as the SoCAB and the east SFBA will likely continue to experience high ozone concentrations throughout the summer season. Climate change and anthropogenic emissions controls are both found to decrease wintertime PM2.5 concentrations in the SJV, eliminating nearly all exceedances of PM2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) in the year 2035. However, reductions in anthropogenic emissions are unable to fully mitigate the impact of climate change on PM2.5 concentrations in the SoCAB and east SFBA. Thus, while future air quality in the SJV is projected to be improved in the year 2035, air quality in the SoCAB and east SFBA will remain similar or marginally worsen compared to present day levels. Conversely, we find that aggressive adoption of alternative energy technologies including renewable resources, electrification of end-use technologies, and energy efficiency measures can offset the impacts of climate change. Overall, the two main drivers for air quality in 2035 are changes in meteorological conditions due to climate change and reductions in anthropogenic emissions.