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Title: Effects of Climate Change on Air Pollution Impacts and Response Strategies for European Ecosystems. Project final report
Authors: Sutton, Mark A.
Howard, Clare M.
Nemitz, Eiko
Arneth, Almut
Simpson, Dave
Mills, Gina
Wim de Vries
Winiwarter, Wilfried
Amann, Markus
Medinets, Sergiy V.
Citation: NERC, ECLAIRE project, 2015. – 68 p.
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: NERC, ECLAIRE project
Keywords: Climate Change, Air Pollution Impacts, ECLAIRE project
Abstract: The central goal of ECLAIRE is to assess how climate change will alter the extent to which air pollutants threaten terrestrial ecosystems. Particular attention has been given to nitrogen compounds, especially nitrogen oxides (NOx) and ammonia (NH3), as well as Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds (BVOCs) in relation to tropospheric ozone (O3) formation, including their interactions with aerosol components. ECLAIRE has combined a broad program of field and laboratory experimentation and modelling of pollution fluxes and ecosystem impacts, advancing both mechanistic understanding and providing support to European policy makers. The central finding of ECLAIRE is that future climate change is expected to worsen the threat of air pollutants on Europe’s ecosystems. Firstly, climate warming is expected to increase the emissions of many trace gases, such as agricultural NH3, the soil component of NOx emissions and key BVOCs. Experimental data and numerical models show how these effects will tend to increase atmospheric N deposition in future. By contrast, the net effect on tropospheric O3 is less clear. This is because parallel increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations will offset the temperature-driven increase for some BVOCs, such as isoprene. By contrast, there is currently insufficient evidence to be confident that CO2 will offset anticipated climate increases in monoterpene emissions. Secondly, climate warming is found to be likely to increase the vulnerability of ecosystems towards air pollutant exposure or atmospheric deposition. Such effects may occur as a consequence of combined perturbation, as well as through specific interactions, such as between drought, O3, N and aerosol exposure. These combined effects of climate change are expected to offset part of the benefit of current emissions control policies. Unless decisive mitigation actions are taken, it is anticipated that ongoing climate warming will increase agricultural and other biogenic emissions, posing a challenge for national emissions ceilings and air quality objectives related to nitrogen and ozone pollution. The O3 effects will be further worsened if progress is not made to curb increases in methane (CH4) emissions in the northern hemisphere. Other key findings of ECLAIRE are that: 1) N deposition and O3 have adverse synergistic effects. Exposure to ambient O3 concentrations was shown to reduce the Nitrogen Use Efficiency of plants, both decreasing agricultural production and posing an increased risk of other forms of nitrogen pollution, such as nitrate leaching (NO3-) and the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O); 2) within-canopy dynamics for volatile aerosol can increase dry deposition and shorten atmospheric lifetimes; 3) ambient aerosol levels reduce the ability of plants to conserve water under drought conditions; 4) low-resolution mapping studies tend to underestimate the extent of local critical loads exceedance; 5) new dose-response functions can be used to improve the assessment of costs, including estimation of the value of damage due to air pollution effects on ecosystems, 6) scenarios can be constructed that combine technical mitigation measures with dietary change options (reducing livestock products in food down to recommended levels for health criteria), with the balance between the two strategies being a matter for future societal discussion. ECLAIRE has supported the revision process for the National Emissions Ceilings Directive and will continue to deliver scientific underpinning into the future for the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution.
metadata.dc.description.sponsorship: ECLAIRE Project
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