Journal: Nature Communications, vol. 14, 3735, 2023
Ventilation of health hazardous aerosol pollution within the planetary boundary layer (PBL) – the lowest layer of the atmosphere – is dependent upon turbulent mixing, which again is closely linked to the height of the PBL. Here we show that emissions of both CO2 and absorbing aerosols such as black carbon influence the number of severe air pollution episodes through impacts on turbulence and PBL height. While absorbing aerosols cause increased boundary layer stability and reduced turbulence through atmospheric heating, CO2 has the opposite effect over land through surface warming. In future scenarios with increasing CO2 concentrations and reduced aerosol emissions, we find that around 10% of the world’s population currently living in regions with high pollution levels are likely to experience a particularly strong increase in turbulence and PBL height, and thus a reduction in intense pollution events. Our results highlight how these boundary layer processes provide an added positive impact of black carbon mitigation to human health.