Articles | Volume 15, issue 21
Research article
02 Nov 2015
Research article |  | 02 Nov 2015

Impact of atmospheric circulations on aerosol distributions in autumn over eastern China: observational evidence

X. Y. Zheng, Y. F. Fu, Y. J. Yang, and G. S. Liu

Abstract. Regional heavy pollution events in eastern China (110–122° E, 28–40° N) are causing serious environmental problems. In this study, the relationship between the degree of regional pollution and the patterns of large-scale atmospheric circulation over eastern China in October is investigated using 10-year (2001–2010) Terra/MODIS aerosol optical depth and NCEP reanalysis data by both case study and composite analysis. Eighteen polluted and 10 clean episodes are selected and categorised into six polluted types and three clean types respectively. Generally speaking, weather patterns such as a uniform surface pressure field in eastern China or a steady straight westerly in the middle troposphere, particularly when being at the rear of the anticyclone at 850 hPa, are typically responsible for heavy pollution events. Meanwhile, clean episodes occur when strong southeastward cold air advection prevails below the middle troposphere or air masses are transported from sea to land. Uniform descending motion prevails over the study region, trapping pollutants in the lower atmosphere. Therefore, the value of vertical velocity averaged from 1000 to 100 hPa and divergence of wind field in the lower troposphere are used in this study to quantify the diffusion conditions in each circulation type. The results reveal that it is often a clean episode when both the mean downward motion (larger than 2.56 × 10−2 Pa s−1) and the divergence of low-level winds (larger than 1.79 × 10−2 s−1) are strong. Otherwise, it is more likely to be a polluted episode.

Short summary
We systematically examined that how various large-scale atmospheric conditions (ACs) affects the distributions of aerosol optical depth (AOD) over eastern China. We extract and depict nine main types for AOD (six polluted types and three clean types) in autumn over eastern China. The results provide convincing evidence that the general characteristics of atmospheric circulations contribute significantly to the different types of regional pollution.
Final-revised paper