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EPA Draft Report Concludes Climate Change May Significantly Increase Ground-Level Ozone in Areas of the US

Change in ozone concentrations between present and 2050 in simulated September-October mean MDA8 O3 concentrations (in ppb), from one of the papers cited in the EPA synthesis report. (Nolte et al., 2007) Click to enlarge.

Climate change has the potential to produce significant increases in near-surface O3 concentrations in many areas of the US by 2050, according to a EPA draft document released for public comment. The increases are in the range 2-8 ppb for summertime-average maximum daily 8-hour (MDA8) O3.

The results suggest that areas in non-attainment for ozone (O3) and areas just below the O3 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) “should begin to consider the impacts of climate change as they develop their attainment and maintenance strategies, even for near-term planning horizons. In other words, they may need to account for a “climate penalty” imposed on their control policies.

Ground-level ozone is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight and hot weather. Ground-level ozone is the primary constituent of smog.

Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and congestion. A National Research Council (NRC) report published in April found that short-term exposure to current levels of ozone in many areas is likely to contribute to premature deaths, and added that the evidence is strong enough that EPA should include ozone-related mortality in health-benefit analyses related to future ozone standards. (Earlier post.)

In March, EPA established a new primary 8-hour standard for ozone of 0.075 parts per million (ppm) [75 ppb], and a new secondary standard set at a form and level identical to the new primary standard. The previous primary and secondary standards were identical 8-hour standards, set at 0.08 ppm. Because ozone is measured out to three decimal places, the standard effectively became 0.084 ppm; therefore, areas with ozone levels as high as 0.084 ppm were considered to have met the 0.08 ppm standard, due to rounding.

The new standard is at the higher end of options proposed by EPA staff scientists in a paper submitted last year, and falls above the standard recommended by scientific and medical groups, including the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) which assists the Administrator of the EPA. (Earlier post.)

In its Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) in 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that “future climate change may cause significant air quality degradation by changing the dispersion rate of pollutants, the chemical environment for ozone and aerosol generation and the strength of emissions from the biosphere, fires and dust. The sign and magnitude of these effects are highly uncertain and will vary regionally.

The EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) Global Change Research Program, in partnership with EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) and several Regional offices, began an assessment effort to increase scientific understanding of the multiple complex interactions between climate and atmospheric chemistry.

The ultimate goal of this assessment, according to the EPA, is to enhance the ability of air quality managers to consider global change in their decisions through improved characterization of the potential impacts of global change on air quality.

The draft of the interim report—a synthesis of research on the impact of climate change on ground-level ozone—is part of the first phase of an integrated assessment framework.

The report is focused primarily on the air quality impact of global climate change, and largely does not address the relative importance of climate vs. anthropogenic emissions of air pollutants or the effectiveness of air quality management efforts. Future reports will focus on those dimensions, according to EPA.

The EPA also emphasized that the report does not represent and should not be construed to represent any Agency determination or policy.

While the report found that simulation results for certain regions of the country (for example, a loosely bounded area encompassing parts of the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and lower Midwest) tended to show agreement in results, other regions, notably the West Coast and the Southeast/Gulf Coast, show conflicting results.

The EPA’s findings also indicate that, where climate-change-induced increases in O3 do occur, “damaging effects on ecosystems, agriculture, and health will be especially pronounced, due to increases in the frequency of extreme pollution events.

Other broad findings of the report include:

  • Climate change has the potential to push O3 concentrations beyond the envelope of natural interannual variability in many regions of the US. In addition, it has the potential to lengthen the O3 season.

    Air quality managers may need multi-year simulations to support the development of long-term air quality control strategies, to capture the effects of both natural meteorological variability and climate-induced changes, the EPA suggested. Air quality managers may also need to plan to extend the season over which they monitor O3 concentrations and be prepared to issue air quality alerts earlier in the spring and later into the fall.

  • Increasing global near-surface humidity associated with climate change has significant potential to decrease O3 concentrations in remote areas with low ambient NOx levels. In other words, changes in O3 concentrations as a result of climate change will depend, in part, on whether an area is clean or polluted, and/or on the degree of influence of air masses from adjacent clean or polluted areas.

  • The potential impact of climate change on PM is less well understood than that on O3. Preliminary results from the modeling studies show a range of increases and decreases in PM concentrations in different regions and for different component chemical species in the same region.

  • Climate change has the potential to impact a number of meteorological variables important for O3. Whether changes in these variables lead to increases, decreases, or no change in O3 concentrations in a given region depends on whether the effects of these individual changes on O3 act in concert or compete with each other.

  • There is disagreement across models of the effects of climate change on the summertime mid-latitude storm tracks, with implications for the simulated frequency and duration of synoptic stagnation events and resulting extreme O3 episodes.

  • Climate change has the potential to increase biogenic emissions of O3 precursors, but significant uncertainties remain about the impact of these emissions changes on O3 concentrations in a given region. Increases in lightning NOx production may also be a factor in future O3 changes.

  • Specific configuration choices made in the development and application of the integrated global-to-regional climate and air quality modeling systems used in this assessment are key determinants of simulated future US regional air quality. The unique characteristics of the climate change problem present significant challenges for uncertainty analysis of air quality impacts.

  • Preliminary sensitivity tests suggest that the impacts of climate change on future US regional O3 concentrations are potentially significant compared to future anthropogenic emissions changes, but these relative impacts are highly sensitive to the detailed assumptions about the magnitude and spatial distribution of emissions changes.


  • These results highlight the need for emissions scenarios with greater regional detail, consistency between global and regional assumptions, and consistency between greenhouse gases and precursor emissions. Meeting this need is a major focus of Phase II of the assessment effort.




This is an improvement. Now the EPA is studying what will happen due to climate change instead of claiming where would be none.

They still have not gotten around to realizing we need to change anything in how we do business to prevent this.

For areas already at or above the limit (like Denver), this is bad news but shouldn't be unexpected. Aside from the serious health implications, it means more expensive gas (due to reformulation, etc) and more regulations and emissions controls. It will lead to more stringent emissions testing, getting old cars off the road, better vapor recovery at gas stations, and maybe even bans on gas power garden equipment (which would be a great thing as far as I'm concerned).

stas peterson

Useful information to know. The USA has no areas that are now exceeding the ground level restrictions on O3.


But as is typical, no PR release can be made announcing Good News.

We must announce instead hypothetical BAD NEWS. If global warming, were to happen, which it hasn't for a decade, then someday, somehow, somewhen, we might have a single location in the USA that would then exceed permissible O3 levels.


I would have thought that they would have called a press conference to announce a milestone Victory in pursuit of Good Air. A Pollutant, O3, was conquered as America has fought Air pollution since the EPA was created.

But NO......

Reality Czech
The USA has no areas that are now exceeding the ground level restrictions on O3.
It doesn't say that in the article. It doesn't say that in the referenced PDF either.

Uhm... yes, the US has made good progress on ozone, but not all areas are in compliance. I happen live in an area that has not been meeting the old 80 ppb standard (Denver).
In addition, the rules are getting lowered to 75 ppb, and then a lot more areas will violate that.


I would have thought that they would have called a press conference to announce a milestone Victory in pursuit of Good Air. A Pollutant, O3, was conquered as America has fought Air pollution since the EPA was created.

You would have thought after all those years that the Bush administration would have purged all the honest government burocrates from the executive branch but the truth is a hard thing to squash. It looks like the neo-cons need to look at that loyalty test again.

error fix

Useful information to know. The USA has no areas that are now exceeding the ground level restrictions on O3.

Sure, Stanley.



A Department of Energy funded research program at MIT has made a breakthru in solar power. This under President Bush. This is one of many DOE funded research programs at over 25 Univerisities in cooperation with public/private funding...

"As a result, rather than covering a roof with expensive solar cells (the semiconductor devices that transform sunlight into electricity), the cells only need to be around the edges of a flat glass panel. In addition, the focused light increases the electrical power obtained from each solar cell "by a factor of over 40," Baldo says."

"Because the system is simple to manufacture, the team believes that it could be implemented within three years--even added onto existing solar-panel systems to increase their efficiency by 50 percent for minimal additional cost. That, in turn, would substantially reduce the cost of solar electricity."

"In addition to Baldo, the researchers involved are Michael Currie, Jon Mapel, and Timothy Heidel, all graduate students in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Shalom Goffri, a postdoctoral associate in MIT's Research Laboratory of Electronics."

"Professor Baldo's project utilizes innovative design to achieve superior solar conversion without optical tracking," says Dr. Aravinda Kini, program manager in the Office of Basic Energy Sciences in the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science, a sponsor of the work. "This accomplishment demonstrates the critical importance of innovative basic research in bringing about revolutionary advances in solar energy utilization in a cost-effective manner."


link to above story:



Meanwhile, Speaker Pelosi, Harry Reid demand that OPEC increase production of their oil, threatening to sue the OPEC nations.

Hypocrites and lunacy...
Who died and made Nancy Queen? And who in their right mind thinks they can tell another nation to increase oil production when they refuse to open their own shores for production?

Hypocrites and lunacy...
Pelosi and the Democrats grand scheme? Tell us all to go ride a bus? While she demands Air Force One treatment for her entire family from DC to SanFran?
While she and Al Gore trip around the world spewing forth more C02 than any of us will in a lifetime?

Hypocrites and lunacy...
Nancy and Harry refuse to allow domestic production. Instead they want to send trillions of American dollars to the Middle East, many enemies of ours that finance terrorist around the world. We could open up our shores, provide high paying jobs, more revenue for the states on the coast and more tax revenue to spend on alternative energy projects. Hundreds of billions could stay home, but the Democrats refuse to allow it. Instead, their grand solution is to force us to pay higher prices.

This is a two-party problem. Both parties have messed up as our leaders on each side went to extremes. Both deserve blame. This is hardly a Bush issue. I'm tired of the insanity of partisan politics. Any child can understand supply and demand in a free market system and global world market. Unless of course you're a democrat voting for socialist values wanting to make us into some old USSR where people must take mass transit.

Today Russia is opening up, becoming more independent and market based. And where do Democrats want to go? Farther to leftist, Marxist insanity.



Any of the brilliant global warming alarmist can answer this questions. Were the Climate models predictions wrong or right about last years global cooling?

If climate models cannot predict accurately a year in advance, we should understand they're not modeling all factors and that C02 is not providing the correlation everyone believes it to be. There are other variables not being tracked and entered accordingly in these models.


@ Michael

You not only have to be smart but also honest.

I am surprised the MIT web site did not mention this. I wish them well.


Solar Concentrator Challenges For the Future
The biggest problem with the new technology may be longevity. The existing designs last for about 3 months in testing, not the 5-15 years most people want out of their solar cells (not to mention windows). The scientists hope that borrowing the technology that protects OLED's from moisture and air could be used to extend the life of this new device. However, OLED's themselves have been plagued by this very same design challenge for years.
The MIT team has formed a company, Covalent Solar, to develop this exciting and innovative device. This technology may unlock new ways to think about using solar in buildings and home construction.


@ Michael

Any child can understand supply and demand in a free market system and global world market.

Oil is a fungible commodity. Just because oil is pumped form a hole in US ground does not mean that it will go into US gas tanks. A major oil company will sell it to any person or country in the world that will pay the most for it; most probably China.


Any of the brilliant global warming alarmist can answer this questions. Were the Climate models predictions wrong or right about last years global cooling?




For climate modeling, Argo is indispensable, said Trenberth, who is not involved in the project. Most of the heat from global warming is absorbed by the oceans, but the temperature increases aren't uniform, he said. This differential heating can change ocean circulation, which affects temperature and rainfall around the planet.

Changing weather also influences the ocean. Argo measurements have shown that much of the Pacific is becoming less salty, as a result of increased rainfall. Since salty water is denser than fresh, shifts in salinity will affect currents and circulation.

"The oceans are the big flywheels in the climate system," Piotrowicz said.
As oceans heat up, they expand, contributing to sea level rise — a process Argo can monitor with unprecedented accuracy.

Argo data also are pointing up weaknesses in the current understanding of climate change. Between 2003 and 2007, Argo floats measured no appreciable warming in the upper oceans — despite the fact that temperatures on land have continued to break records. At the same time, sea level is rising faster than can be explained by melting glaciers alone, said Josh Willis, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab.

"The lack of warming over a period of a few years isn't really that surprising, because of all the natural variability," he said. "It's a bit of a mystery what's going on with sea level."

Andrey Levin

“…Pacific is becoming less salty, as a result of increased rainfall”

And where this additional precipitation is coming from? From Mars?

Trenberth at his best.

GCC -- overrun and ruined by denialist cranks.


Trying not to sound cynical is hard when it is clear that AGW creates a market for CO2 Cap & Trade schemes. Those schemes are being run by your friendly Wall Street, Chicago Board and Euro-market commodity traders who are delighted that *you* (complicit gloom & doomers) are endorsing their greed.

The greater the hype on "toxic CO2" - the bigger the profit for Cap & Traders like Al (ur pal) Gore - absconder of Nobel Prize for suppressed science facts.



For every human endeavor there are “insiders” that game the system. For example, futures markets, medical insurance, banking, stock trading, …

That is why we have government to police these activities. In the last 10 years government has eliminated most policing of these activities resulting in massive disruptions of our orderly society. I favor the reestablishment of "effective" government regulation to keep a lip on corruption. How about you?



CO2 has real costs that aren't reflected in it's price. Analysts from MIT and all over agree. Whether its political or social, those costs need to be internalized in the cost people pay for it. How much is the Iraqi war liable to oil? How much is reflected in the cost? In economics it's called freeloading and it's time that it stops.

If you don't like the views, it's simple leave. Only a masochist would hold your views then go to a site with the word green in it and then go to an article about the EPA and climate change.



2007, last year's global cooling? Not according to the records that I've found.



If talking about this winter, it had higher precipitation but except for april/may was in general slightly higher than average.

Weather is not climate. There will be statistical events that will cause variations both above and below the norm. That norm though has causal factors. Mainstream scientific reasoning has determined that these causal factors are pushing up the norm. So although there might be a year that will be cooler, unless those causal factors are dealt with, the temperature on average will be centered around higher norms.

stas peterson


Did you look at the accompanying diagram? I based the observation on that.

Thank You for those charts. The chart of interest is not the cover map, but when you narrow down to the 8 hr Ozone areas they show a half dozen counties that are marginal, in O3 levels but not necessarily poor air. On the scale of the map accompanying the article, they wouldn't show, at all. Denver more than a mile high, seems to be the only real place in question; but the smog capital, the LA basin, has no attainment problem for O3. Houston, I assume, has some counties that have marginal but apparently not exceeding limits too.


Very good statement. I agree.


I agree we now have another tool to join the expanding 21st century science tools, that effectively measure variables in quantitative terms. They are being used, to answer the qualitative suppositions of the primitive science of the 1950-1970s GHG global warming theories.

The ARGOs show the Oceans are colder than Warmists hypothesized. Now they suggest that the 'Missing Heat' went into the lowest ocean depths below 1000 meters, or 4000 feet deep.

Why are they saying that? There is no reason whatever; it's merely the only place that ARGOs don't go that deep and measure. Argos only dive to 1000 meters. Talk about grasping at straws.

I suggest that the stored heat was belched in the periodic and usual weather phenomenon called an 'el Nino'. We had an extremely large 'el Nino' in 1998, when the oceans yielded a lot of heat to the Atmosphere.

Hansen and his religious priesthood offered that acknowledged purely weather phenomenon, as proof of climate altering Global Warming. He said it was the hottest year ever; until 1934 and maybe 1921, were offered as hotter years, during the last 100 years.

So called sea level rise by expanding warmer water, is long recognized and represent most of the sea level rise. Its called 'steric rise'.

If you inspect the sea level record that can now be measured much more accurately by new satellites, the sea level was rising at the same rate as ever over the last few hundred years, but started to crest and fall in 2006 and subsequently.

This is taken as a sign that the Oceans as a whole are cooling, and therefor contracting, hence the sea level declines. As the Sun's output turned down, and has declined for a decade, or more, the Earth has given up its heat, and cooled too. So much for global warming hysteria.

A periodic weather phenomenon, was distorted into a climate warming proof, by the religious fanatics, a self appointed priestly class, but reality is now intruding.


It is becoming an open scandal that of the four major temperature tracking systems worldwide, Hansen's GISS output is diverging ever more from the other three. The satellites and Hadley Centers records all seem to track and agree. And Mr. Global Warming 'adjusts' and 'adjusts' and 'adjusts' his GISS data, and it drifts ever further from the other three.

Nor will Hansen publish what his "adjustments" actually are. This is not Science any more.
This is changing facts to fit pre-existing Religious mania.

But you can't say it hasn't paid him well. He has received over $1.5 million in documented special payments, as well as an excellent salary and perks. In 1988, Algore dredged up the unknown astrophysicist, and turned him into the world's pre-eminent Climatologist.

Algore got him promoted to Director of GISS, to mouth and confirm Algore's divinity school televangelist training sermons, of new 'fire and brimstone'.

Meanwhile Algore repackaged old-time Christian religious myths. He sought to appeal to secular non-believers, talking of a GAIA 'scientific' religion of Nature worship; and the recreated myth of Original Sin of Mankind, Anthropogenic Global Warming.


@ Axil:

Correct. However, when a particular commodity is largely an invention to meet an agenda - it is a recipe for corruption. Where oil, pork and corn futures are real commodities traded and consumed by real people - CO2 is a speculative commodity, based on highly debatable science. Cap and Trade CO2 accomplishes two non-productive goals: a tax on industry already accomplished by real toxic trading programs e.g. AQMD's Volatile Organic Compounds plan or EPA's Acid Rain Program.

The market for CO2 worldwide is the source of unrestrained mouth watering by schemers, junk bonders and traders alike - an estimated $500B annually. Which is simply an invitation for corruption and abuse - especially in light of the non-event of AGW. It is, frankly, one of the most cynical, manipulative boondoggles foisted upon humanity since its inception (including organized religion.)

@aym - only one who does NOT care about environmental justice would abandon this web site. Do not mistake a name for a measure of tenacity.

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