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Atmospheric Modeling and Analysis Research

Research in Action

Modeling Air Quality Impacts on Terrestrial and Water Quality

lighting over a lake

Issue

Clean water and air come from healthy, sustainable ecosystems. To restore and protect ecosystems, researchers and decision makers need scientifically robust models and decision support tools to understand the ways that air pollution deposits in ecosystems across the nation, and to show linkages between atmospheric deposition and ecosystem exposure to toxic airborne chemicals.

To address the issue, EPA atmospheric modeling scientists are studying how deposition of sodium oxide, nitrogen oxides, ammonia, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) influence acidification in lakes and streams. Researchers are also examining the effects of excess nutrients on terrestrial and aquatic species, how nitrogen oxides and VOCs affect ozone; and the effects of airborne mercury on bio-accumulations of mercury in the food-chain.

Action

EPA scientists across several disciplines are working together to bring air quality models, meteorology models, and hydrology models together to better determine the effects air quality can have on the health of ecosystems. Working together, these models can help scientists and policy makers better understand the factors that contribute to air pollution-driven impacts on ecosystems.

Results and Impacts

The coordinated research approach will provide a state-of-the-science air pollutant deposition modeling system and a prototype method for connecting air quality models with ecosystem models. Ultimately, the project will provide prototype components for a multidisciplinary modeling system encompassing air, water and land.

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