Articles | Volume 14, issue 9
Research article
12 May 2014
Research article |  | 12 May 2014

Impact of biomass burning on haze pollution in the Yangtze River delta, China: a case study in summer 2011

Z. Cheng, S. Wang, X. Fu, J. G. Watson, J. Jiang, Q. Fu, C. Chen, B. Xu, J. Yu, J. C. Chow, and J. Hao

Abstract. Open biomass burning is an important source of air pollution in China and globally. Joint observations of air pollution were conducted in five cities (Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou and Nanjing) of the Yangtze River delta, and a heavy haze episode with visibility 2.9–9.8 km was observed from 28 May to 6 June 2011. The contribution of biomass burning was quantified using both ambient monitoring data and the WRF/CMAQ (Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) and Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ)) model simulation. It was found that the average and maximum daily PM2.5 concentrations during the episode were 82 and 144 μgm−3, respectively. Weather pattern analysis indicated that stagnation enhanced the accumulation of air pollutants, while the following precipitation event scavenged the pollution. Mixing depth during the stagnant period was 240–399 m. Estimation based on observation data and CMAQ model simulation indicated that biomass open burning contributed 37% of PM2.5, 70% of organic carbon and 61% of elemental carbon. Satellite-detected fire spots, back-trajectory analysis and air quality model simulation were integrated to identify the locations where the biomass was burned and the pollutants transport. The results suggested that the impact of biomass open burning is regional, due to the substantial inter-province transport of air pollutants. PM2.5 exposure level could be reduced 47% for the YRD region if complete biomass burning is forbidden and significant health benefit is expected. These findings could improve the understanding of heavy haze pollution, and suggest the need to ban open biomass burning during post-harvest seasons.

Final-revised paper