Friday, September 19, 2014

Reforestation to reduce ozone without costing businesses extra money

A new paper (on which I'm an author) was just published in PNAS on our collaboration with Dow. In particular, we looked at reforestation as a tool for ozone abatement, with the key finding that in Houston reforestation was cost-competitive with building scrubbers (which has a high initial capital cost and cannot readily be adjusted to a precise need for removal) and NOx allowances. If carbon credits could be sold it would be cheaper.

There are plenty of caveats (the legal framework to actually do this is not in place yet, we assume land owners exist who want their lands reforested (as opposed to having to buy land), it only works in places with NOx-limited ozone and ozone non-attainment areas, etc. Also, the national map I made (above) is a coarse analysis showing where this could be replicated, but does not include factors like the current drought in California (the intent is to flag areas deserving a closer look if the policy piece goes through). For the paper, I did a more rigorous habitat assessment about where within the study area a specific type of bottomland hardwood forest could likely be planted successfully.
Nonetheless, it is exciting that in this case we found that a natural solution could be appealing to businesses, while also providing benefits to others (habitat, recreation, etc.). I was only peripherally involved (in the mapping out of where this could work), but I'm still pretty proud.

There is a blog post about why this paper is arguably significant here:

and more details here:

and the actual paper is here:

More information: Reforestation as a novel abatement and compliance measure for ground-level ozone, Timm Kroeger, PNAS, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1409785111

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