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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Radiative forcing due to reactive gas emissions

  • Author(s): Wigley, T. M. L.
  • Smith, S. J.
  • Prather, M. J.
  • et al.

Reactive gas emissions (CO, NOx, VOC) have indirect radiative forcing effects through their influences on tropospheric ozone and on the lifetimes of methane and hydrogenated halocarbons. These effects are quantified here for the full set of emissions scenarios developed in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Emissions Scenarios. In most of these no-climate-policy scenarios, anthropogenic reactive gas emissions increase substantially over the twenty-first century. For the implied increases in tropospheric ozone, the maximum forcing exceeds 1 W m−2 by 2100 (range −0.14 to +1.03 W m−2). The changes are moderated somewhat through compensating influences from NOx versus CO and VOC. Reactive gas forcing influences through methane and halocarbons are much smaller; 2100 ranges are −0.20 to +0.23 W m−2 for methane and −0.04 to +0.07 W m−2 for the halocarbons. Future climate change might be reduced through policies limiting reactive gas emissions, but the potential for explicitly climate-motivated reductions depends critically on the extent of reductions that are likely to arise through air quality considerations and on the assumed baseline scenario.

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