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Large Gain in Air Quality Compared to an Alternative Anthropogenic Emissions ScenarioDuring the last 30 years, significant effort has been made to improve air quality through legislation for emissions reduction. Global three-dimensional chemistrytransport simulations of atmospheric composition over the past 3 decades have been performed to estimate what the air quality levels would have been under a scenario of stagnation of anthropogenic emissions per capita as in 1980, accounting for the population increase (BA1980) or using the standard practice of neglecting it (AE1980), and how they compare to the historical changes in air quality levels. The simulations are based on assimilated meteorology to account for the yearto- year observed climate variability and on different scenarios of anthropogenic emissions of pollutants. The ACCMIP historical emissions dataset is used as the starting point. Our sensitivity simulations provide clear indications that air quality legislation and technology developments have limited the rapid increase of air pollutants. The achieved reductions in concentrations of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, black carbon, and sulfate aerosols are found to be significant when comparing to both BA1980 and AE1980 simulations that neglect any measures applied for the protection of the environment. We also show the potentially large tropospheric air quality benefit from the development of cleaner technology used by the growing global population. These 30-year hindcast sensitivity simulations demonstrate that the actual benefit in air quality due to air pollution legislation and technological advances is higher than the gain calculated by a simple comparison against a constant anthropogenic emissions simulation, as is usually done. Our results also indicate that over China and India the beneficial technological advances for the air quality may have been masked by the explosive increase in local population and the disproportional increase in energy demand partially due to the globalization of the economy.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Daskalakis, Nikos (Crete Univ. Crete, Greece)
Tsigaridis, Kostas (Columbia Univ. New York, NY, United States)
Myriokefalitakis, Stelios (Crete Univ. Crete, Greece)
Fanourgakis, George S. (Crete Univ. Crete, Greece)
Kanakidou, Maria (Crete Univ. Crete, Greece)
Date Acquired
August 16, 2016
Publication Date
August 4, 2016
Publication Information
Publication: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Volume: 16
Issue: 15
Subject Category
Environment Pollution
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Law (Jurisprudence)
Air quality