Investigating ground-level ozone pollution in semi-Arid and arid regions of Arizona using WRF-Chem v4.4 modeling

Yafang Guo, Chayan Roychoudhury, Mohammad Amin Mirrezaei, Rajesh Kumar, Armin Sorooshian, Avelino F. Arellano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ground-level ozone (O3) pollution is a persistent environmental concern, even in regions that have made efforts to reduce emissions. This study focuses on the state of Arizona, which has experienced elevated O3 concentrations over past decades and contains two non-Attainment areas as designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Using the Weather Research and Forecasting with Chemistry (WRF-Chem) model, we examine O3 levels in the semi-Arid and arid regions of Arizona. Our analysis focuses on the month of June between 2017 and 2021, a period characterized by high O3 levels before the onset of the North American Monsoon (NAM). Our evaluation of the WRF-Chem model against surface Air Quality System (AQS) observations reveals that the model adeptly captures the diurnal variation of hourly O3 levels and the episodes of O3 exceedance through the maximum daily 8g2h average (MDA8) O3 concentrations. However, the model tends to overestimate surface NO2 concentrations, particularly during nighttime hours. Among the three cities studied, Phoenix (PHX) and Tucson (TUS) exhibit a negative bias in both hourly and MDA8 O3 levels, while Yuma demonstrates a relatively large positive bias. The simulated mean hourly and MDA8 O3 concentrations in Phoenix are 44.6 and 64.7 parts per billion (ppb), respectively, compared to observed values of 47.5 and 65.7g2ppb, resulting in mean negative biases of 2-2.9 and 2-1.0g2ppb, respectively. Furthermore, the analysis of the simulated ratio of formaldehyde (HCHO) to NO2 (2HCHO/NO2; FNR), reveals interesting insights of the sensitivity of O3 to its precursors. In Phoenix, the FNR varies from a VOC (volatile organic compound)-limited regime in the most populated areas to a transition between VOC-limited and NO2x-limited regimes throughout the metro area, with an average FNR of 1.15. In conclusion, this study sheds light on the persistent challenge of ground-level O3 pollution in semi-Arid and arid regions, using the state of Arizona as a case study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4331-4353
Number of pages23
JournalGeoscientific Model Development
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 24 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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