Net radiative forcing due to changes in regional emissions of tropospheric ozone precursors

Vaishali Naik, Denise Leonore Mauzerall, Larry Horowitz, M. Daniel Schwarzkopf, Venkatachalam Ramaswamy, Michael Oppenheimer

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81 Scopus citations


The global distribution of tropospheric ozone (O3) depends on the emission of precorsors, chemistry, and transport. For small perturbations to emissions, the global radiative forcing resulting from changes in O3 can be expressed as a sum of forcings from emission changes in different regions. Tropospheric O3 is considered in present climate policies only through the inclusion of indirect effect of CH4 on radiative forcing through its impact on O3 concentrations. The short-lived O3 precursors (NOx, CO, and NMHCs) are not directly included in the Kyoto Protocol or any similar climate mitigation agreement. In this study, we quantify the global radiative forcing resulting from a marginal reduction (10%) in anthropogenic emissions of NOx, alone from nine geographic regions and a combined marginal reduction in NOx, CO, and NMHCs emissions from three regions. We simulate, using the global chemistry transport model MOZART-2, the change in the distribution of global O3 resulting from these emission reductions. In addition to the short-term reduction in O3, these emission reductions also increase CH4 concentrations (by decreasing OH); this increase in CH4 in turn counteracts part of the initial reduction in O3 concentrations. We calculate the global radiative forcing resulting from the regional emission reductions, accounting for changes in both O3 and CH4. Our results show that changes in O3 production and resulting distribution depend strongly on the geographical location of the reduction in precursor emissions. We find that the global O3 distribution and radiative forcing are most sensitive to changes in precursor emissions from tropical regions and least sensitive to changes from midlatitude and high-latitude regions. Changes in CH4 and O3 concentrations resulting from NOx, emission reductions alone produce offsetting changes in radiative forcing, leaving a small positive residual forcing (wartning) for all regions. In contrast, for combined reductions of anthropogenic emissions of NOx, CO, and NMHCs, changes in O3 and CH4 concentrations result in a net negative radiative forcing (cooling). Thus we conclude that simultaneous reductions of CO, NMHCs, and NOx, lead to a net reduction in radiative forcing due to resulting changes in tropospheric O3 and CH4 while reductions in NOx, emissions alone do not.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberD24306
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 27 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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