Articles | Volume 17, issue 4
Research article
23 Feb 2017
Research article |  | 23 Feb 2017

Widespread and persistent ozone pollution in eastern China during the non-winter season of 2015: observations and source attributions

Guohui Li, Naifang Bei, Junji Cao, Jiarui Wu, Xin Long, Tian Feng, Wenting Dai, Suixin Liu, Qiang Zhang, and Xuexi Tie

Abstract. Rapid growth of industrialization, transportation, and urbanization has caused increasing emissions of ozone (O3) precursors recently, enhancing the O3 formation in eastern China. We show here that eastern China has experienced widespread and persistent O3 pollution from April to September 2015 based on the O3 observations in 223 cities. The observed maximum 1 h O3 concentrations exceed 200 µg m−3 in almost all the cities, 400 µg m−3 in more than 25 % of the cities, and even 800 µg m−3 in six cities in eastern China. The average daily maximum 1 h O3 concentrations are more than 160 µg m−3 in 45 % of the cities, and the 1 h O3 concentrations of 200 µg m−3 have been exceeded on over 10 % of days from April to September in 129 cities. Analyses of pollutant observations from 2013 to 2015 have shown that the concentrations of CO, SO2, NO2, and PM2.5 from April to September in eastern China have considerably decreased, but the O3 concentrations have increased by 9.9 %. A widespread and severe O3 pollution episode from 22 to 28 May 2015 in eastern China has been simulated using the Weather Research and Forecasting model coupled to chemistry (WRF-CHEM) to evaluate the O3 contribution of biogenic and various anthropogenic sources. The model generally performs reasonably well in simulating the temporal variations and spatial distributions of near-surface O3 concentrations. Using the factor separation approach, sensitivity studies have indicated that the industry source plays the most important role in the O3 formation and constitutes the culprit of the severe O3 pollution in eastern China. The transportation source contributes considerably to the O3 formation, and the O3 contribution of the residential source is not significant generally. The biogenic source provides a background O3 source, and also plays an important role in the south of eastern China. Further model studies are needed to comprehensively investigate O3 formation for supporting the design and implementation of O3 control strategies, considering rapid changes of emission inventories and photolysis caused by the Atmospheric Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan released by the Chinese State Council in 2013.

Final-revised paper