The interdecadal worsening of weather conditions affecting aerosol pollution in the Beijing area in relation to climate warming

Zhang, Xiaoye; Zhong, Junting; Wang, Jizhi; Wang, Yaqiang; Liu, Yanju

The weather conditions affecting aerosol pollution in Beijing and its vicinity (BIV) in wintertime have worsened in recent years, particularly after 2010. The relation between interdecadal changes in weather conditions and climate warming is uncertain. Here, we analyze long-term variations of an integrated pollution-linked meteorological index (which is approximately and linearly related to aerosol pollution), the extent of changes in vertical temperature differences in the boundary layer (BL) in BIV, and northerly surface winds from Lake Baikal during wintertime to evaluate the potential contribution of climate warming to changes in meteorological conditions directly related to aerosol pollution in this area; this is accomplished using NCEP reanalysis data, surface observations, and long-term vertical balloon sounding observations since 1960. The weather conditions affecting BIV aerosol pollution are found to have worsened since the 1960s as a whole. This worsening is more significant after 2010, with PMinline-formula2.5 reaching unprecedented high levels in many cities in China, particularly in BIV. The decadal worsening of meteorological conditions in BIV can partly be attributed to climate warming, which is defined by more warming in the higher layers of the boundary layer (BL) than the lower layers. This worsening can also be influenced by the accumulation of aerosol pollution, to a certain extent (particularly after 2010), because the increase in aerosol pollution from the ground leads to surface cooling by aerosol–radiation interactions, which facilitates temperature inversions, increases moisture accumulations, and results in the extra deterioration of meteorological conditions. If analyzed as a linear trend, weather conditions have worsened by inline-formula∼ 4 % each year from 2010 to 2017. Given such a deterioration rate, the worsening of weather conditions may lead to a corresponding amplitude increase in PMinline-formula2.5 in BIV during wintertime in the next 5 years (i.e., 2018 to 2022). More stringent emission reduction measures will need to be conducted by the government.

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Zhang, Xiaoye / Zhong, Junting / Wang, Jizhi / et al: The interdecadal worsening of weather conditions affecting aerosol pollution in the Beijing area in relation to climate warming. 2018. Copernicus Publications.

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