Claim: Global warming improves urban air quality

Annually exceedance days of 1-h averaged O3 mixing ratios during 1990–2014 for four sites. Study "Influence of Climate Change and Meteorological Factors on Houston’s Air Pollution: Ozone a Case Study" (MDPI attribution license)

Annually exceedance days of 1-h averaged O3 mixing ratios during 1990–2014 for four sites. Study “Influence of Climate Change and Meteorological Factors on Houston’s Air Pollution: Ozone a Case Study” (MDPI attribution license)

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t DailyCaller – a new study published in the MDPI Atmosphere Journal has concluded that global warming is responsible for improving air quality in Houston, Texas.

The abstract of the study:

Abstract: We examined the past 23 years of ground-level O3 data and selected meteorological parameters in Houston, Texas, which historically has been one of the most polluted cities in the United States. Both 1-h and 8-h O3 exceedances have been reduced significantly down to single digit yearly occurrences. We also found that the frequency of southerly flow has increased by a factor of ~2.5 over the period 1990–2013, likely suppressing O3 photochemistry and leading to a “cleaner” Houston environment. The sea breeze was enhanced greatly from 1990 to 2013 due to increasing land surface temperatures, increased pressure gradients, and slightly stronger on-shore winds. These patterns driven by climate change produce a strengthening of the sea breeze, which should be a general result at locations worldwide.

Read more: http://www.mdpi.com/2073-4433/6/5/623/htm

Lets hope that Houston keeps its improved air quality – it would be a real shame if the onshore wind intensity was to drop back to 1990s levels.


This paper was previously covered on WUWT: A benefit of ‘climate change’ – reduced ozone pollutants in coastal cities

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47 thoughts on “Claim: Global warming improves urban air quality

    • But IF temperatures can be proven to have increased slightly over the stated period AND IF atmospheric pollutants can be shown to have decreased over the same time period, is it global warming leading to clearer skies or is it clearer skies leading to a slight temp increase?

  1. Global Warming is amazing!…..
    …it can increase air quality without changing the temperature

  2. Thanks, Eric. This will go on the balance.
    The benefits of CO2 outweigh its temperature drawbacks by much, and these drawbacks are limited to places that are historically affected by a dry and hot climate.
    Better, faster, crops and a general greening of the Earth are global:
    http://www.oarval.org/CSIRO-Foliage1982-2010.jpg
    From Deserts ‘greening’ from rising CO2 (CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Australia’s national science agency. 3 July 2013).
    This graphic used to be at http://www.csiro.au/en/Portals/Media/Deserts-greening-from-rising-CO2.aspx but no longer.

  3. Of course the reduction in ozone wouldn’t have anything to do with 30 years of regulations reducing the ozone precursors (NOX & VOC), nah, must be the global warming.

    • It most certainly is a “stretch.”
      That assertion contradicts their own conclusions:
      “The sea breeze was enhanced greatly from 1990 to 2013 due to increasing land surface temperatures, increased pressure gradients, and slightly stronger on-shore winds.

  4. Americans with enough grit, brains, courage, and honor get out of the Coast Guard Academy have to sit and listen to a mad dog fool who wants to tax CO2 rant and rave about how evil it is that man kind eats corn and drives cars that burn gasoline.
    We are now to the point we ourselves must soon stand up or we too will have to bow down to mad hatters.
    In my humble opinion, more that a mental case, evil to the liar core.

    • Late May in the Northern Hemisphere.
      Sucker: “Oh, man. It sure IS warmer!”
      Come late October, back to “climate change.”
      Sucker: “Oh, man. It hailed or rained or snowed or blew or anything like this when I was a kid.”

  5. They attribute the effect to stronger sea breezes. On the coast, I could understand this, as strong development in that coastal area would lead to larger UHI effects and then stronger sea breezes. This works for the coast, but Houston is perhaps 50 mi. NNW of the coast. Rather too far for seabreezes to carry, I think. In any event, the onshore sea breezes are roughly NW to NNW in direction. But they claim the effect is from a southerly flow, in direct opposition. They then expand the significance of the effect by claiming the sea breezes (which are a purely local effect), will have global impact. (sigh)
    Finally, they wrap up this pile of contradictions and claim “It Was The Global Warming Wot Done It”.
    The sea breeze aspect has merit, but is well known and a trivial point point from a research perspective. The AGW aspect has no merit whatsoever. Particularly when we remember, no warming for 18 years, 5 months and counting.

    • The primary runway orientation in the eastern half of Texas is between 120 and 180 degrees (magnetic). The wind off the gulf blows all the way to Kansas.

    • Wind direction is that from which the wind blows, so the sea breeze would be from the southeast, which it is in Houston. A stronger sea breeze might make for better yacht racing. Another coastal bay with reliable and very strong sea breezes is San Francisco Bay, and that breeze is generated by surface heating of the land quite some distance east.

    • Tony, you are correct in saying the term ‘sea breeze’ is usually used to mean local winds caused by diurnal heating of the land. In reality, monsoons, which are seasonal, are essentially the same phenomena – heating of the land, drawing cooler air in from the ocean. And this phenomena occurs at all scales from local to continental. So urban heating in Houston will tend to increase winds from the ocean.
      The interesting question is whether a similar increase in winds from the ocean is observed at rural locations in south Texas. If not, then this as a purely urban phenomena and nothing to do with ‘global warming’.

  6. Interesting because in August 1988 I was in NYC with people from all over Canada and the US.
    The only people who weren’t complaining about the humidity were from the mid New England states around the coast thru Houston.
    Breezes made a big difference in comfort level two or three evenings when I was there.

  7. Can someone refresh me on the evils of ozone? I get the hole over the Antarctic caused by the sun (I think the persistence of the hole waxing and waning is getting embarrassing for those who shut down CFC’s etc.) is supposed to cause skin cancer for those sunbathing at the south pole, but how is this diminishing ozone in Houston supposed to be good. Anyone near electrical machinery is constantly getting ozoned. The world is such a scary place for humans, no wonder we’ve got to go.

    • Good point, Gary Pearse!
      The article is junk within junk! Nested junk!
      Summary:
      Global warming (which is not happening and if it is not human-caused)
      is saving us from ozone poisoning (which is not a real problem).

  8. The causality is the other way around. Improving urban air quality has increased urban temperatures and thus global average surface temperatures. As well as, increasing the frequency and strength of sea breezes at coastal locations like Houston.
    Urban pollution reduces surface solar insolation directly and indirectly through cloud seeding. This is especially true in the early morning, when the daily minimum temperature generally occurs. Creating the illusion nights are getting warmer.

  9. As a Houstonian of almost 3 years I can tell you from my personal experience that it is a very windy city. I live just at the southern edge of the city and the winds are pretty steady from the south most of the time. Keep in mind the topography is very flat from the coast all the way to the northern city limits, so there is not much to slow the winds off of the gulf.

  10. Are you certain this isn’t an effect of drought? Unburned hydrocarbons also come from plant life.

  11. I think it would be disingenuous to tie air quality to AGW. We know that in small regional environments, air quality is governed by combustion emissions. Ask L.A. in the 80’s-90’s. What resulted in that improvement is vehicle emissions standards.
    1988 marked the 1st full introduction of electronic fuel injection for GM.* 1994 marked the debut of GM’s 2nd generation Engine Management computer. This computer was used in the last of the wet manifold/non direct-injection systems. It was retired in 1996, with direct injection sytems with crank angle and cam angle sensors. The drop in O3 is conspicuously timed for when these vehicles would be entering the secondary market and widespread usage. The key to all these systems, dating back to 1988 is they all had a O2 sensor to monitor combustion and adjust fuel for optimal clean burning. The 1994 system added more tuning points in RPM/airflow tables for more programmed control.
    I think these explain the sudden drop in O3.
    * Some models got it before, some got it later. But this is the year it was in wide-spread usage.

  12. “The sea breeze was enhanced greatly from 1990 to 2013 due to … slightly stronger on-shore winds.”
    I wonder if cold weather is enhanced greatly by slightly lower temperatures. (This statement comes close to being both a tautology and contradiction at the same time…)

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