Atmospheric Science

Vegetation Effects on Atmospheric Pollution

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Science  10 Oct 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5643, pp. 201
DOI: 10.1126/science.302.5643.201a

How changes in the composition of Earth's atmosphere may affect climate has received much attention, but how climate change may influence the composition of the atmosphere is not so clear. In particular, it is important to know how global climate change may affect pollutants such as surface ozone. This is a complicated task, however, because pollutant concentrations depend on a complex web of chemical reactions and species. For example, surface ozone concentrations are sensitive to the abundance of isoprene, which is produced by vegetation and thereby is a function of climate.

Sanderson et al. use a global atmospheric general circulation model coupled to dynamic vegetation and chemistry models to predict how climate change will affect vegetation, isoprene, and ozone over the 21st century. Although changing patterns of vegetation will reduce the emission of isoprene, background ozone levels are expected to rise by 10 to 20 parts per billion by volume (ppbv) and to cause parts of China, Korea, and the eastern USA to exceed the health safety limit of 60 ppbv. — HJS

Geophys. Res. Lett. 30, 1936 (2003).

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