Forests play a role in air quality by supplying the atmosphere with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), precursors to ozone and aerosols. Different tree types emit different VOCs, each with different capacity to form ozone and aerosols. Therefore, shifts in forest composition may impact ozone and aerosol yields. Climate change is one of the expected drivers of forest change. In particular, the current range boundaries of a variety of species are expected to shift northward. The impacts of these climate-induced shifts in forest composition on air quality, particularly VOC emissions and subsequent ozone and aerosol formation, is little understood. This project aimed to explore the relative contribution of shifts in approximately 25 tree species to changes in the VOC, ozone, and aerosol environment using a suite of high-resolution models.
This science can help land managers understand the natural precursors to ozone and aerosols that are expected for their management zone and can inform decisions about air quality in a changing climate. Policy makers can use the results to take actions such as revising legislation around air quality standards based on a new forest landscape in a changing climate.
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“Central Hardwoods; Public Domain”