BER launches Environmental System Science Program. Visit our new website under construction!

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

A New Way To Model Urban Air Pollution
Published: May 26, 2011
Posted: October 31, 2011

Urban regions account for an increasing fraction of global air pollutants, but urban-scale aerosol processing is not included in global atmospheric models due to the computational demands of modeling at such detailed temporal and spatial scales. Now, a DOE team from the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change has developed a detailed air quality meta-model that includes this processing. This urban processing model was used in a global 3-D chemical transport model to simulate the effects of cities around the world on aerosol chemistry, physics, and radiative effects at the global scale. The study compares the new method with the traditional approach of diluting total aerosol emissions across global model grid cells, which does not capture the heterogeneity of urban and non-urban areas within each grid cell. The researchers found that the urban processing model predicted a lower concentration of atmospheric aerosols than the dilution method, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere and during the summer season. In addition, the urban processing model showed increased concentrations of primary aerosols, like black carbon and organic carbon, and decreased concentrations of secondary aerosols, like sulfates. The results show that the traditional dilution method leads to significantly more negative aerosol radiative forcing compared to results that include detailed urban-scale processing.

Reference: Cohen, J. B., R. G. Prinn, and C. Wang. 2011. "The Impact of Detailed Urban-Scale Processing on the Composition, Distribution, and Radiative Forcing of Anthropogenic Aerosols," Geophysical Research Letters 38, L10808. (DOI: 10.1029/2011GL047417) (Reference link)

Contact: Bob Vallario, SC 23.1, (301) 903-5758
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Multisector Dynamics (formerly Integrated Assessment)

Division: SC-33.1 Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, BER


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Mar 23, 2021
Molecular Connections from Plants to Fungi to Ants
Lipids transfer energy and serve as an inter-kingdom communication tool in leaf-cutter ants&rsqu [more...]

Mar 19, 2021
Microbes Use Ancient Metabolism to Cycle Phosphorus
Microbial cycling of phosphorus through reduction-oxidation reactions is older and more widespre [more...]

Feb 22, 2021
Warming Soil Means Stronger Microbe Networks
Soil warming leads to more complex, larger, and more connected networks of microbes in those soi [more...]

Jan 27, 2021
Labeling the Thale Cress Metabolites
New data pipeline identifies metabolites following heavy isotope labeling.

Analysis [more...]

Aug 31, 2020
Novel Bacterial Clade Reveals Origin of Form I Rubisco

  • All plant biomass is sourced from the carbon-fixing enzyme Rub [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)