Tropospheric ozone change from 1980 to 2010 dominated by equatorward redistribution of emissions

Yuqiang Zhang, Owen R. Cooper, Audrey Gaudel, Anne M. Thompson, Philippe Nédélec, Shin Ya Ogino, J. Jason West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


Ozone is an important air pollutant at the surface, and the third most important anthropogenic greenhouse gas in the troposphere. Since 1980, anthropogenic emissions of ozone precursors - methane, non-methane volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides (NO x) - have shifted from developed to developing regions. Emissions have thereby been redistributed equatorwards, where they are expected to have a stronger effect on the tropospheric ozone burden due to greater convection, reaction rates and NO x sensitivity. Here we use a global chemical transport model to simulate changes in tropospheric ozone concentrations from 1980 to 2010, and to separate the influences of changes in the spatial distribution of global anthropogenic emissions of short-lived pollutants, the magnitude of these emissions, and the global atmospheric methane concentration. We estimate that the increase in ozone burden due to the spatial distribution change slightly exceeds the combined influences of the increased emission magnitude and global methane. Emission increases in Southeast, East and South Asia may be most important for the ozone change, supported by an analysis of statistically significant increases in observed ozone above these regions. The spatial distribution of emissions dominates global tropospheric ozone, suggesting that the future ozone burden will be determined mainly by emissions from low latitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)875-879
Number of pages5
JournalNature Geoscience
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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