Western US Smog Increasingly Due To Asian Emissions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Meiyun Lin PhD Research Scholar NOAA and Princeton University’s Cooperative Institute for Climate Science

Dr. Meiyun Lin

Dr. Meiyun Lin PhD
Research  Scholar
NOAA and Princeton University’s Cooperative Institute for Climate Science

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Ground-level ozone, also known as smog, has climbed in the rural West over the past 25 years, even in such seemingly pristine places as Yellowstone National Park. We have found out why – and why cutting our own output of smog-forming chemicals such as nitrogen oxides by 50% hasn’t helped. This study found that increased pollution from Asia, which has tripled its nitrogen oxide emissions since 1990, contribute to the persistence of smog in the West.

While ozone in the eastern U.S. has decreased overall, the levels can spike during heat waves, characterized by large-scale air stagnation, warm temperatures, and plentiful radiation needed for ozone formation locally. As heat waves appears to be on the rise due to global climate change, progress in reducing smog in the eastern US is likely to be slower in the coming decades.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: These new findings suggest that a global perspective is necessary when designing a strategy to meet U.S. ozone air quality objectives. Increasing ozone from rising Asian emissions leaves less room for local production of ozone before the US national air quality standard is violated.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: While it has been known for over a decade that Asian pollution contributes to ozone levels in the United States, this study is one of the first to quantify the relative contribution of Asian pollution to long-term trends in US ozone. Prior studies using global chemistry-climate models poorly matched the ozone increases measured in western national parks. We were able to reconcile measured and modeled ozone trends by narrowing our analysis to days when the air flow is predominantly from the Pacific Ocean.

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US surface ozone trends and extremes from 1980 to 2014: quantifying the roles of rising Asian emissions, domestic controls, wildfires, and climate
Meiyun Lin et al.
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 17, 2943-2970, 2017

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Last Updated on March 1, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD