20 Feb 2023
 | 20 Feb 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Assessment of isoprene and near surface ozone sensitivities to water stress over the Euro-Mediterranean region

Susanna Strada, Andrea Pozzer, Filippo Giorgi, Graziano Giuliani, Erika Coppola, Fabien Solmon, Xiaoyan Jiang, and Alex Guenther

Abstract. Plants emit biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) in response to changes in environmental conditions (e.g., temperature, radiation, soil moisture). In the large family of BVOCs, isoprene is by far the largest emitted compounds and plays an important role in ozone chemistry, thus affecting both climate and air quality. In turn, climate change may alter isoprene emissions by increasing the occurrence and intensity of severe water stresses that alter plant functioning.

The Model of Emissions of Gases and Aerosols from Nature (MEGAN) provides different parameterizations to account for the impact of water stress on isoprene emissions, which essentially reduces emissions in response to the effect of soil moisture deficit on plant productivity.

By applying the regional climate-chemistry model RegCM4chem coupled to the Community Land Model CLM4.5 and MEGAN2.1, we thus performed sensitivity simulations to assess the effects of water stress on isoprene emissions and near-surface ozone levels over the Euro-Mediterranean region and across the drier/wetter summers over the period 1992–2016 using two different parametrizations of the impact of water stress implemented in the MEGAN model.

Over the Euro-Mediterranean region and across the simulated summers, water stress reduces isoprene emissions on average by nearly 6 %. However, during the warmest and driest selected summers (e.g., 2003, 2010, 2015) and over large isoprene-source area (e.g., the Balkans), decreases in isoprene emissions range from −20 to −60 % and co-occur with negative anomalies in precipitation, soil moisture and plant productivity. Sustained decreases in isoprene emissions also occur after prolonged or repeated dry anomalies, as observed for the summers of 2010 and 2012. Although the decrease in isoprene emissions due to water stress may be important, it only reduce near-surface ozone levels by few percents due to a dominant NOx-limited regime over southern Europe and the Mediterranean Basin. Overall, over the selected analysis region, compared to the old MEGAN parameterization, the new one leads to localized and 25–50 % smaller decreases in isoprene emissions, and 3–8 % smaller reduction in near-surface ozone levels.

Susanna Strada et al.

Status: open (until 03 Apr 2023)

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Susanna Strada et al.


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Short summary
Water deficit modifies emissions of isoprene, an aromatic compound released by plants that influence the production of a pollutant such as surface ozone. Numerical modeling shows that, during the warmest and driest summers, isoprene decreases between −20 to −60 % over the Euro-Mediterranean region, while surface ozone only diminishes by few percents. Decreases in isoprene emissions not only happen simultaneously of dry conditions, but could also occur after prolonged or repeated water deficit.