To what extents do urbanization and air pollution affect fog?

Yan, Shuqi; Zhu, Bin; Huang, Yong; Zhu, Jun; Kang, Hanqing; Lu, Chunsong; Zhu, Tong

The remarkable development of China has resulted in rapid urbanization (urban heat island and dry island) and severe air pollution (aerosol pollution). Previous studies demonstrate that these two factors have either suppressing or promoting effects on fog, but what are the extents of their individual and combined effects? In this study, a dense radiation fog event in eastern China in January 2017 was reproduced by the Weather Research and Forecasting model coupled with Chemistry (WRF-Chem), and the individual and combined effects of urbanization and aerosols on fog (indicated by liquid water content – LWC) are quantitatively revealed. Results show that urbanization inhibits low-level fog, delays its formation and advances its dissipation due to higher temperatures and lower saturations. In contrast, upper-level fog could be enhanced because of the updraught-induced vapour convergence. Aerosols promote fog by increasing LWC, increasing droplet concentration and decreasing droplet effective radius. Further experiments show that the current pollution level in China could still be below the critical aerosol concentration that suppresses fog. Urbanization influences fog to a larger extent than aerosols do. When urbanization and aerosol pollution are combined, the much weaker aerosol-promoting effect is counteracted by the stronger urbanization-suppressing effect on fog. Budget analysis of LWC reveals that urban development (urbanization and aerosols) alters the LWC profile and fog structure mainly by modulating condensation–evaporation process. Our results infer that urban fog will be further reduced if urbanization keeps developing and air quality keeps deteriorating in the future.

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Yan, Shuqi / Zhu, Bin / Huang, Yong / et al: To what extents do urbanization and air pollution affect fog?. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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