Projections of future wildfires impacts on air pollutants and air toxics in a changing climate over the western United States
Wildfires emit smoke particles and gaseous pollutants that greatly aggravate air quality and cause adverse health impacts in the western US (WUS). This study evaluates how wildfire impacts on air pollutants and air toxics evolve from the present climate to the future climate under a high anthropogenic emission scenario at regional and city scales. Through employing multiple climate and chemical transport models, small changes in domain-averaged air pollutant concentrations by wildfires are simulated over WUS. However, such changes significantly increase future city-scale pollutant concentrations by up to 53 ppb for benzene, 158 ppb for formaldehyde, 655 μg/m3 for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), and 102 ppb for ozone, whereas that for the present climate are 104 ppb for benzene, 332 ppb for formaldehyde, 1,378 μg/m3 for PM2.5, and 140 ppb for ozone. Despite wildfires induce smaller changes in the future, the wildfire contribution ratios can increase by more than tenfold compared to the present climate, indicating wildfires become a more critical contributor to future air pollution in WUS. In addition, additional 6 exceedance days/year for formaldehyde and additional 3 exceedance days/year for ozone suggest increasing health impacts by wildfires in the future.