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Why do models overestimate surface ozone in the Southeast United States?

Travis, K., D. Jacob, J. A. Fisher, P. Kim, E. A. Marais, L. Zhu, K. Yu, C. C. Miller, R. M. Yantosca, M. P. Sulprizio, A. M. Thompson, P. Wennberg, J. D. Crounse, J. M. St. Clair, R. C. Cohen, J. Laughner, J. Dibb, S. R. Hall, K. Ullmann, G. M. Wolfe, I. B. Pollack, J. Peischl, J. A. Neuman, and X. Zhou (2016), Why do models overestimate surface ozone in the Southeast United States?, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 13561-13577, doi:10.5194/acp-16-13561-2016.

Ozone pollution in the Southeast US involves complex chemistry driven by emissions of anthropogenic nitrogen oxide radicals (NOx ≡ NO + NO2 ) and biogenic isoprene. Model estimates of surface ozone concentrations tend to be biased high in the region and this is of concern for designing effective emission control strategies to meet air quality standards. We use detailed chemical observations from the SEAC4 RS aircraft campaign in August and September 2013, interpreted with the GEOS-Chem chemical transport model at 0.25◦ × 0.3125◦ horizontal resolution, to better understand the factors controlling surface ozone in the Southeast US. We find that the National Emission Inventory (NEI) for NOx from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is too high. This finding is based on SEAC4 RS observations of NOx and its oxidation products, surface network observations of nitrate wet deposition fluxes, and OMI satellite observations of tropospheric NO2 columns. Our results indicate that NEI NOx emissions from mobile and industrial sources must be reduced by 30–60 %, dependent on the assumption of the contribution by soil NOx emissions. Upper-tropospheric NO2 from lightning makes a large contribution to satellite observations of tropospheric NO2 that must be accounted for when using these data to estimate surface NOx emissions. We find that only half of isoprene oxidation proceeds by the high-NOx pathway to produce ozone; this fraction is only moderately sensitive to changes in NOx

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Atmospheric Composition
Tropospheric Composition Program (TCP)