Effect of changes in climate and emissions on future sulfate-nitrate-ammonium aerosol levels in the United States

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Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences; Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering


Global simulations of sulfate, nitrate, and ammonium aerosols are performed for the present day and 2050 using the chemical transport model GEOS-Chem. Changes in climate and emissions projected by the IPCC A1B scenario are imposed separately and together, with the primary focus of the work on future inorganic aerosol levels over the United States. Climate change alone is predicted to lead to decreases in levels of sulfate and ammonium in the southeast U.S. but increases in the Midwest and northeast U.S. Nitrate concentrations are projected to decrease across the U.S. as a result of climate change alone. In the U.S., climate change alone can cause changes in annually averaged sulfate-nitrate-ammonium of up to 0.61 μg/m3, with seasonal changes often being much larger in magnitude. When changes in anthropogenic emissions are considered (with or without changes in climate), domestic sulfate concentrations are projected to decrease because of sulfur dioxide emission reductions, and nitrate concentrations are predicted to generally increase because of higher ammonia emissions combined with decreases in sulfate despite reductions in emissions of nitrogen oxides. The ammonium burden is projected to increase from 0.24 to 0.36 Tg, and the sulfate burden to increase from 0.28 to 0.40 Tg S as a result of globally higher ammonia and sulfate emissions in the future. The global nitrate burden is predicted to remain essentially constant at 0.35 Tg, with changes in both emissions and climate as a result of the competing effects of higher precursor emissions and increased temperature.

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Copyright 2009 by the American Geophysical Union. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1029/2008JD010701

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Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres