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  • Lamon, L., H. von Waldow, M. MacLeod, M. Scheringer, A. Marcomini and K. Hungerbühler, Modeling the Global Levels and Distribution of Polychlorinated Biphenyls in Air under a Climate Change Scenario. Environ. Sci. Technol., doi:10.1021/es900438j.

We used the multimedia chemical fate model BETR Global to evaluate changes in the global distribution of two polychlorinated biphenyls, PCB 28 and PCB 153, under the influence of climate change. This was achieved by defining two climate scenarios based on results from a general circulation model, one scenario representing the last twenty years of the 20th century (20CE scenario) and another representing the global climate under the assumption of strong future greenhouse gas emissions (A2 scenario). The two climate scenarios are defined by four groups of environmental parameters: (1) temperature in the planetary boundary layer and the free atmosphere, (2) wind speeds and directions in the atmosphere, (3) current velocities and directions in the surface mixed layer of the oceans, and (4) rate and geographical pattern of precipitation. As a fifth parameter in our scenarios, we consider the effect of temperature on primary volatilization emissions of PCBs. Comparison of dynamic model results using environmental parameters from the 20CE scenario against historical long-term monitoring data of concentrations of PCB 28 and PCB 153 in air from 16 different sites shows satisfactory agreement between modeled and measured PCBs concentrations. The 20CE scenario and A2 scenario were compared using steady-state calculations and assuming the same source characteristics of PCBs. Temperature differences between the two scenarios is the dominant factor that determines the difference in PCB concentrations in air. The higher temperatures in the A2 scenario drive increased primary and secondary volatilization emissions of PCBs, and enhance transport from temperate regions to the Arctic. The largest relative increase in concentrations of both PCB congeners in air under the A2 scenario occurs in the high Arctic and the remote Pacific Ocean. Generally, higher wind speeds under the A2 scenario result in more efficient intercontinental transport of PCB 28 and PCB 153 compared to the 20CE scenario. Our modeling indicates that, in a future impacted by climate change, we can expect increased volatilization emissions and increased mobility of persistent organic pollutants with properties similar to those of PCBs.

Full Article: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es900438j

Last Updated: 2009-06-23

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