Response of winter fine particulate matter concentrations to emission and meteorology changes in North China
Abstract. The winter haze is a growing problem in North China, but the causes are not well understood. The chemistry version of the Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF-Chem) was applied in North China to examine how PM2.5 concentrations change in response to changes in emissions (sulfur dioxide (SO2), black carbon (BC), organic carbon (OC), ammonia (NH3), and nitrogen oxides (NOx)), as well as meteorology (temperature, relative humidity (RH), and wind speeds) changes in winter. From 1960 to 2010, the dramatic changes in emissions lead to +260 % increases in sulfate, +320 % increases in nitrate, +300 % increases in ammonium, +160 % increases in BC, and +50 % increases in OC. The responses of PM2.5 to individual emission species indicate that the simultaneous increases in SO2, NH3, and NOx emissions dominated the increases in PM2.5 concentrations. PM2.5 shows more notable increases in response to changes in SO2 and NH3 as compared to increases in response to changes in NOx emissions. In addition, OC also accounts for a large fraction in PM2.5 changes. These results provide some implications for haze pollution control. The responses of PM2.5 concentrations to temperature increases are dominated by changes in wind fields and mixing heights. PM2.5 shows relatively smaller changes in response to temperature increases and RH decreases compared to changes in response to changes in wind speed and aerosol feedbacks. From 1960 to 2010, aerosol feedbacks have been significantly enhanced due to higher aerosol loadings. The discussions in this study indicate that dramatic changes in emissions are the main cause of increasing haze events in North China, and long-term trends in atmospheric circulations may be another important cause since PM2.5 is shown to be substantially affected by wind speed and aerosol feedbacks. More studies are necessary to get a better understanding of the aerosol–circulation interactions.