Ground-based MAX-DOAS observations of tropospheric formaldehyde VCDs and comparisons with the CAMS model at a rural site near Beijing during APEC 2014
Formaldehyde (HCHO), a key aerosol precursor, plays a significant role in atmospheric photo-oxidation pathways. In this study, HCHO column densities were measured using a Multi-AXis Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy (MAX-DOAS) instrument at the University of Chinese Academy of Science (UCAS) in Huairou District, Beijing, which is about 50 km away from the city center. Measurements were taken during the period of 1 October 2014 to 31 December 2014, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit was organized on 5–11 November. Peak values of HCHO vertical column densities (VCDs) around noon and a good correlation coefficient R2 of 0.73 between HCHO VCDs and surface O3 concentration during noontime indicated that the secondary sources of HCHO through photochemical reactions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) dominated the HCHO values in the area around UCAS. Dependences of HCHO VCDs on wind fields and backward trajectories were identified and indicated that the HCHO values in the area around UCAS were considerably affected by the transport of pollutants (VOCs) from polluted areas in the south. The effects of control measures on HCHO VCDs during the APEC period were evaluated. During the period of the APEC conference, the average HCHO VCDs were ∼38%±20% and ∼30%±24% lower than that during the pre-APEC and post-APEC periods calculated at the 95 % confidence limit, respectively. This phenomenon could be attributed to both the effects of prevailing northwest wind fields during APEC and strict control measures. We also compared the MAX-DOAS results with the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) model. The HCHO VCDs of the CAMS model and MAX-DOAS were generally consistent with a correlation coefficient R2 greater than 0.68. The peak values were consistently captured by both data datasets, but the low values were systematically underestimated by the CAMS model. This finding may indicate that the CAMS model can adequately simulate the effects of the transport and the secondary sources of HCHO but underestimates the local primary sources.