Projected change in characteristics of near surface temperature inversions for southeast Australia

Abstract

Air pollution has significant impacts on human health. Temperature inversions, especially near surface temperature inversions, can amplify air pollution by preventing convective movements and trapping pollutants close to the ground, thus decreasing air quality and increasing health issues. This effect of temperature inversions implies that trends in their frequency, strength and duration can have important implications for air quality. In this study, we evaluate the ability of three reanalysis-driven high-resolution regional climate model (RCM) simulations to represent near surface inversions at 9 sounding sites in southeast Australia. Then we use outputs of 12 historical and future RCM simulations (each with three time periods: 1990–2009, 2020–2039, and 2060–2079) from the NSW/ACT (New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory) Regional Climate Modelling (NARCliM) project to investigate changes in near surface temperature inversions. The results show that there is a substantial increase in the strength of near surface temperature inversions over southeast Australia which suggests that future inversions may intensify poor air quality events. Near surface inversions and their future changes have clear seasonal and diurnal variations. The largest differences between simulations are associated with the driving GCMs, suggesting that the large-scale circulation plays a dominant role in near surface inversion strengths.

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Acknowledgements

This work is made possible by funding from the NSW Environmental Trust for the ESCCI-ECL project, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage backed NSW/ACT Regional Climate Modelling Project (NARCliM), and the Australian Research Council as part of the Future Fellowship FT110100576 and Linkage Project LP120200777. Dr. Roman Olson is supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and future Planning (No. 2014R1A2A1A11049497), and the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant funded by the Korean Government(MEST) (NRF-2009-0093069). The modelling work was undertaken on the NCI high performance computers in Canberra, Australia, which is supported by the Australian Commonwealth Government. We would like to thank Mark Newton for providing the sounding observation for 9 weather stations within the NARCliM domain. This made it possible to evaluate NARCliM simulations in capturing frequency and strength of observed near surface inversions.

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Correspondence to Fei Ji.

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Ji, F., Evans, J.P., Di Luca, A. et al. Projected change in characteristics of near surface temperature inversions for southeast Australia. Clim Dyn 52, 1487–1503 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-018-4214-3

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Keywords

  • Temperature inversion
  • NARCliM
  • Ensemble mean
  • Near surface inversion