Surface ozone at Nam Co in the inland Tibetan Plateau: variation, synthesis comparison and regional representativeness
Abstract. Ozone is an important pollutant and greenhouse gas, and tropospheric ozone variations are generally associated with both natural and anthropogenic processes. As one of the most pristine and inaccessible regions in the world, the Tibetan Plateau has been considered as an ideal region for studying processes of the background atmosphere. Due to the vast area of the Tibetan Plateau, sites in the southern, northern and central regions exhibit different patterns of variation in surface ozone. Here, we present continuous measurements of surface ozone mixing ratios at Nam Co Station over a period of ∼ 5 years (January 2011 to October 2015), which is a background site in the inland Tibetan Plateau. An average surface ozone mixing ratio of 47.6 ± 11.6 ppb (mean ± standard deviation) was recorded, and a large annual cycle was observed with maximum ozone mixing ratios in the spring and minimum ratios during the winter. The diurnal cycle is characterized by a minimum in the early morning and a maximum in the late afternoon. Nam Co Station represents a background region where surface ozone receives negligible local anthropogenic emissions inputs, and the anthropogenic contribution from South Asia in spring and China in summer may affect Nam Co Station occasionally. Surface ozone at Nam Co Station is mainly dominated by natural processes involving photochemical reactions, vertical mixing and downward transport of stratospheric air mass. Model results indicate that the study site is affected differently by the surrounding areas in different seasons: air masses from the southern Tibetan Plateau contribute to the high ozone levels in the spring, and enhanced ozone levels in the summer are associated with air masses from the northern Tibetan Plateau. By comparing measurements at Nam Co Station with those from other sites on the Tibetan Plateau, we aim to expand the understanding of ozone cycles and transport processes over the Tibetan Plateau. This work may provide a reference for future model simulations.