Articles | Volume 16, issue 3
Research article
08 Feb 2016
Research article |  | 08 Feb 2016

Climate modulation of the Tibetan Plateau on haze in China

X. Xu, T. Zhao, F. Liu, S. L. Gong, D. Kristovich, C. Lu, Y. Guo, X. Cheng, Y. Wang, and G. Ding

Abstract. Rapid increases in pollutant emissions in conjunction with stagnant meteorological conditions result in haze pollution in China. Recent frequent haze in China has attracted worldwide attention. Here we show a relationship between the haze events and Tibetan Plateau (TP)'s environment and climate changes. Based on observational data taken over recent decades, we identify central-eastern China (CEC) as a climatological large-scale “susceptible region” of frequent haze, which is harbored by the TP with its impact on midlatitude westerly winds. The observational and modeling studies demonstrate that the interannual variations in the thermal forcing of TP are positively correlated with the incidences of wintertime haze over CEC. Further analysis indicates that the climate warming of the TP induced changes in atmospheric circulation, driving frequent haze events in CEC. The frequent haze occurrences in CEC are consistent with decreasing winter monsoon winds, intensifying downward air flows and increasing atmospheric stability in the lower troposphere over the CEC in association with upstream plateau's thermal anomalies. Therefore, variations of haze in China are related to mechanical and thermal forcing by the TP. Our results also suggest that implications of the large TP topography for environment and climate changes should be taken into account for air pollution mitigation policies in China.

Short summary
We study the climate modulation of the Tibetan Plateau (TP) on atmospheric environment in China with three key points. First a large-scale "susceptible region" for haze is climatologically identified over central-eastern China (CEC) harbored by the TP. Secondly, thermal anomalies of the TP induce the changes in meteorological drivers downstream for frequent haze events in CEC. Finally implications of the TP for the atmospheric environment have potential utility for development planning in China.
Final-revised paper