Accurate prediction of air quality response to emissions for effective control policy design

Junhua Li , Min Cao , Jia Xing , Shovan Kumar Sahu , Lei Duan


Received September 07, 2021,Revised , Accepted February 07, 2022, Available online February 18, 2022

Volume 35,2023,Pages 116-126

Designing effective control policy requires accurate quantification of the relationship between the ambient concentrations of O3 and PM2.5 and the emissions of their precursors. However, the challenge is that precursor reduction does not necessarily lead to decreases in the concentrations of O3 and PM2.5, which are formed by multiple precursors under complex physical and chemical processes; this calls for the development of advanced model technologies to provide accurate predictions of the nonlinear responses of air quality to emissions. Different from the traditional sensitivity analysis and source apportionment methods, the reduced form models (RFMs) based on chemical transport models (CTMs) are able to quantify air quality responses to emissions more accurately and efficiently with lower computational cost. Here we review recent approaches used in RFMs and compare their structures, advantages and disadvantages, performance and applications. In general, RFMs are classified into three types including (1) sensitivity-based models, (2) models with simplified chemistry and physical processes, and (3) statistical models, with considerable differences in principles, characteristics and application ranges. The prediction of nonlinear responses by RFMs enables more in-depth analysis, not only in terms of real-time prediction of concentrations and quantification of human exposure, health impacts and economic damage, but also in optimizing control policies. Notably, data assimilation and emission inventory inversion based on the nonlinear response of concentrations to emissions can also be greatly beneficial to air pollution control management. In future studies, improvement in the performance of CTMs is exceedingly crucial to obtain a more reliable baseline for the prediction of air quality responses. Development of models to determine the air quality response to emissions under varying meteorological conditions is also necessary in the context of future climate changes, which pose great challenges to the quantification of response relationships. Additionally, with rising requirements for fine-scale air quality management, improving the performance of urban-scale simulations is worth considering. In short, accurate predictions of the response of air quality to emissions, though challenging, holds great promise for the present as well as for future scenarios.

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