Investigating Ground-Level Ozone Pollution in Semi-Arid and Arid Regions of Arizona Using WRF-Chem v4.4 Modeling
Abstract. Ground-level ozone (O3) pollution is a persistent environmental concern, even in regions that have made efforts to reduce emissions. This study focuses on the state of Arizona, which has experienced elevated O3 concentrations over past decades containing two non-attainment areas designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Using the Weather Research and Forecasting with Chemistry (WRF-Chem) model, we examine O3 levels in the semi-arid and arid regions of Arizona. Our analysis focuses on the month of June between 2017 and 2021, a period characterized by high O3 levels before the onset of the North American Monsoon (NAM). Our evaluation of the WRF-Chem model against surface Air Quality System (AQS) observations reveals that the model adeptly captures the diurnal variation of hourly O3 levels and the episodes of O3 exceedance through the maximum daily 8-hour average (MDA8) O3 concentrations. However, the model tends to overestimate surface NO2 concentrations, particularly during nighttime hours. Among the three cities studied, Phoenix (PHX) and Tucson (TUS) exhibit a negative bias in both hourly and MDA8 O3 levels, while Yuma demonstrates a relatively larger positive bias. The simulated mean hourly and MDA8 O3 concentrations in Phoenix are 44.6 and 64.7 parts per billion (ppb), respectively, compared to observed values of 47.5 and 65.7 ppb, resulting in mean negative biases of -2.9 ppb and -1.0 ppb, respectively.
Furthermore, the analysis of the simulated ratio of formaldehyde (HCHO) to NO2 (HCHO/NO2; FNR), reveals interesting insights of the sensitivity of O3 to its precursors. In Phoenix, the FNR varies by a VOC (volatile organic compound)-limited regime in the most populated areas and a transition between VOC-limited and NOx-limited regimes throughout the metro area with an average FNR of 1.15. In conclusion, this study sheds light on the persistent challenge of ground-level O3 pollution in semi-arid and arid regions, using the state of Arizona as a case study.
Status: open (until 08 Mar 2024)
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