National Aeronautics and Space Administration


Date of this Version



Tong, D., L. Pan, W. Chen, L. Lamsal, P. Lee, Y. Tang, H. Kim, S. Kondragunta, and I. Stajner (2016), Impact of the 2008 Global Recession on air quality over the United States: Implications for surface ozone levels from changes in NOx emissions, Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, 9280–9288, doi:10.1002/2016GL069885.


U.S. government work.


Satellite and ground observations detected large variability in nitrogen oxides (NOx) during the 2008 economic recession, but the impact of the recession on air quality has not been quantified. This study combines observed NOx trends and a regional chemical transport model to quantify the impact of the recession on surface ozone (O3) levels over the continental United States. The impact is quantified by simulating O3 concentrations under two emission scenarios: business-as-usual (BAU) and recession. In the BAU case, the emission projection from the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule is used to estimate the “would-be” NOx emission level in 2011. In the recession case, the actual NO2 trends observed from Air Quality System ground monitors and the Ozone Monitoring Instrument on the Aura satellite are used to obtain “realistic” changes in NOx emissions. The model prediction with the recession effect agrees better with ground O3 observations over time and space than the prediction with the BAU emission. The results show that the recession caused a 1–2 ppbv decrease in surface O3 concentration over the eastern United States, a slight increase (0.5–1 ppbv) over the Rocky Mountain region, and mixed changes in the Pacific West. The gain in air quality benefits during the recession, however, could be quickly offset by the much slower emission reduction rate during the post-recession period.