Characteristics of aerosol pollution during heavy haze events in Suzhou, China
Abstract. Extremely severe haze weather events occurred in many cities in China, especially in the east part of the country, in January 2013. Comprehensive measurements including hourly concentrations of PM2.5 and its major chemical components (water-soluble inorganic ions, organic carbon (OC), and elemental carbon (EC)) and related gas-phase precursors were conducted via an online monitoring system in Suzhou, a medium-sized city in Jiangsu province, just east of Shanghai. PM2.5 (particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 µm or less) frequently exceeded 150 µg m−3 on hazy days, with the maximum reaching 324 µg m−3 on 14 January 2013. Unfavorable weather conditions (high relative humidity (RH), and low rainfall, wind speed, and atmospheric pressure) were conducive to haze formation. High concentrations of secondary aerosol species (including SO42−, NO3−, NH4+, and SOC) and gaseous precursors were observed during the first two haze events, while elevated primary carbonaceous species emissions were found during the third haze period, pointing to different haze formation mechanisms. Organic matter (OM), (NH4)2SO4, and NH4NO3 were found to be the major contributors to visibility impairment. High concentrations of sulfate and nitrate might be explained by homogeneous gas-phase reactions under low RH conditions and by heterogeneous processes under relatively high RH conditions. Analysis of air mass trajectory clustering and potential source contribution function showed that aerosol pollution in the studied areas was mainly caused by local activities and surrounding sources transported from nearby cities.