Application of high resolution land use and land cover data for atmospheric modeling in the Houston-Galveston Metropolitan area: Part II. Air quality simulation results

Fang Yi Cheng, Soontae Kim, Daewon W. Byun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


In the companion paper, we showed that MM5 simulation using a satellite-derived high resolution Texas Forest Service (TFS) land use and land cover (LULC) data set (M2), compared to the MM5 results with the default USGS-LULC (M1), improved representation of the complicated features of the atmospheric planetary boundary layer (PBL) in the Houston ship channel (HSC) area, where large industrial emission sources are concentrated. In the present paper, the study is extended to investigate these effects on air quality simulations. Two emission inputs, namely E1 and E2, are prepared with the M1 and M2 meteorology data, respectively, to reflect the differences in the point source plume rise estimates while keeping the biogenic and mobile emissions the same. Air quality simulations were performed with CMAQ using the M1E1 and M2E2 inputs. The simulation results demonstrate the importance of utilizing high resolution LULC data. In the default LULC data, the HSC area was classified as grass land cover, and MM5 predicted confined mixing, resulting in over-prediction of ozone (O3) precursors, such as NOx (NO plus NO2), and highly reactive volatile organic compounds (HRVOC) species, including ethylene and propylene, over the HSC area. In the TFS data, the area was classified as the impervious "urban" land use and MM5 predicted enhanced mixing of the precursor species, leading to better agreements with measurements. The high resolution LULC also resolves the location of water body near the HSC more accurately, predicting shallower PBL heights than the default LULC during daytime. With favorable wind conditions, the O3 precursors were transported from the HSC emission source towards the area, trapping the pollutants in a confined shallow mixing layer that occasionally led to a rapid photochemical production of O3. The above comparison includes the changes in both meteorological and plume-rise emissions inputs. We performed two additional CMAQ simulations using the same meteorological result (M2) but with different emission point sources E1 and E2 to determine the importance of emission changes on the air quality simulations. The sensitivity tests with the different plume-rise emission inputs due to two different meteorological inputs show little impact on the air quality simulations in this case.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4853-4869
Number of pages17
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number20
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • CMAQ air quality simulation
  • Houston O problem
  • Mesoscale meteorological modeling
  • Mixing and transport
  • Satellite-derived land use land cover data


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