Articles | Volume 10, issue 16
24 Aug 2010
 | 24 Aug 2010

The challenge of improving visibility in Beijing

Q. H. Zhang, J. P. Zhang, and H. W. Xue

Abstract. The "Blue Sky Project" was proposed in 1998 to investigate by how much emissions should be reduced to increase blue sky frequency in Beijing, which hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008. This paper focuses on the temporal variation of visibility and its dependence on meteorological conditions and suspended particles at Beijing using the hourly observed visibility data at Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) from 1999 to 2007. It has been found that about 47.8% (24.2%) of the hours in Beijing are "bad" ("good") hours with visibility below 10 km (equal or higher than 20 km) between 1999 and 2007. Due to the high Relative Humidity (RH), summer is the season with the lowest mean visibility in a year. Although PM10 index was reported in a decreasing trend (Chan and Yao, 2008), the increase of RH has resulted in a decreasing trend of visibility over BCIA in the summer from 1999 to 2007. To ensure blue sky ("good" visibility) for Olympics 2008, daily mean PM10 index should have been reduced from 81 to 44. This requires that not only vehicle emissions, but also other emissions should be limited. Observations verify that blue-sky-hour rate increased significantly after mean PM10 index was reduced to 53 during Olympics 2008, however, the visibility of 2009 returned to the mean level from 1999 to 2007 during the period 8−24 August. RH (aerosol) contribute 24% (76%) of the improvement of visibility during August 2008.

Final-revised paper