Reforestation and crop land conversion impacts on future regional air quality in the Southeastern U.S.

Land in the southeastern U.S. is expected to change, e.g., given the potential demand to develop forest-to-fuel technologies or, conversely, cropification of current forests to increase food production. Possible future PM<inf>2.5</inf> and O<inf>3</inf> air quality for two land use/land cover change (LULCC) scenarios, reforestation and cropland conversion, are compared to a reference case scenario for the year 2050 using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) and Community Multi-scale Air Quality (CMAQ) models. Changes in air quality driven by changes in climate, deposition and emissions relating to the LULCC are investigated. Reforestation in the Southeast tends to decrease the ambient O<inf>3</inf> mixing ratio while slightly increasing summertime PM<inf>2.5</inf> in the Southeastern U.S. Results of a climate and deposition (CD) sensitivity simulation are provided for the two alternative LULCC scenarios to isolate the impact of changing climate and deposition on PM<inf>2.5</inf> and O<inf>3</inf> air quality. The sensitivity results indicate that deposition and emissions changes associated with reforestation impact O<inf>3</inf> and PM<inf>2.5</inf> concentrations as much as, and in most cases more than, changes in meteorology. Conversion of forest to cropland in the Southeast, on the other hand, tends to increase O<inf>3</inf> and increase PM<inf>2.5</inf> year-round. Cropland conversion leads to increased NO<inf>X</inf> emissions and increases in the 4th highest maximum daily 8-h O<inf>3</inf> (MDA8) of the year by up to 10ppb despite the tendency for increased deposition and decreased temperature to reduce the MDA8 mixing ratio. The results of this study show that O<inf>3</inf> and aerosol concentrations are sensitive to reforestation and cropland conversion in the Southeast and these land use changes should be considered in air quality management plans. Further, they show the sensitivity of such calculations to land cover properties. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

Published in:
Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 209-210, 78-86

 Record created 2018-10-15, last modified 2019-12-05

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