16 Jan 2024

Atlas of ozone chemical regimes in Europe

While concentrations of most air pollutants have been decreasing in Europe over the last 20 years, O3 is showing variable trends, with increasing average and decreasing peak concentrations. The complexity of O3 chemistry adds to the difficulty of understanding both the trends observed and how concentrations can be mitigated. This paper tries to answer the following questions: which emission sectors should be targeted and what levels of reduction could be achieved? To address these reflections, an Atlas of O3 chemical regimes has been constructed. For this Atlas, 22 European cities were selected and the surrogate model Air Control Toolbox (ACT) was used to evaluate the simulated changes in several ozone metrics as a result of reductions in road transport and industrial emissions. O3 chemical regimes have been classified and put in perspective with meteorological and emission data at each city location and around. The O3 sensitivity to road transport and industrial emissions differ from one city to another, but also for the same city when considering different ozone metrics and seasons (e.g., annual means versus SOMO35 or summer peaks). Counterproductive impacts yielding O3 increase when emissions are reduced are mainly encountered in regions or periods where O3 concentration are relatively low. In terms of meteorological factors, O3 chemical regimes are mostly impacted by the amount of solar radiation received but wind speed also has a considerable impact. Most cases show a higher sensitivity to emission reductions from road transport or equal sensitivity to emission reductions from road transport and industry. Very few cases are more sensitive to emissions from the industrial sector. However, the response of annual or seasonal average O3 metrics to industrial and road transport emissions can be considered relatively low with a maximum reduction of 33% for a 100% reduction of both industrial and road transport emissions. This is because anthropogenic emission can only mitigate ozone above a substantial natural tropospheric background. It is precisely this incremental anthropogenic ozone, which should be targeted by efficient policies as we also demonstrate that none of the cities studied would exceed the European target value with a 100% reduction in emissions.

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