Articles | Volume 14, issue 15
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 7757–7768, 2014

Special issue: Haze in China (HaChi 2009–2010)

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 7757–7768, 2014

Research article 04 Aug 2014

Research article | 04 Aug 2014

SO2 noontime-peak phenomenon in the North China Plain

W. Y. Xu1,3, C. S. Zhao1, L. Ran2, W. L. Lin3,4, P. Yan3,4, and X. B. Xu3 W. Y. Xu et al.
  • 1Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, School of Physics, Peking University, Beijing, China
  • 2Key Laboratory of Middle Atmosphere and Global Environment Observation, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 3Key Laboratory for Atmospheric Chemistry, Institute of Atmospheric Composition, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 4Meteorological Observation Center, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, China

Abstract. A phenomenon of frequent noontime SO2 concentration peaks was discovered in a detailed analysis of the SO2 concentrations in the North China Plain (NCP). The possible causes and their contributions are analyzed. The impacts of such a phenomenon on the sulphur cycle were studied and the implications of the phenomenon for atmospheric chemistry, cloud physics, and climate were discussed. Different from the more common SO2 diurnal patterns with high nighttime concentrations, NCP witnessed high frequencies of noontime SO2 peaks, with an occurrence frequency of 50 to 72% at four stations. Down mixing of elevated pollution layers, plume transport processes, mountain-valley winds, and fog/high RH haze events were the possible causes. The contribution of each process varies from day to day and from station to station, however, none of those four processes can be neglected. SO2 peaks occurring during noontime instead of nighttime will lead to a 13 to 35% increase in sulphur dry deposition, a 9 to 23% increase in gas phase oxidation, and an 8 to 33% increase in aqueous phase conversions, which will increase the hygroscopicity and the light scattering of aerosols, thus having important impacts on atmospheric chemistry, cloud physics, and climate.

Final-revised paper