Articles | Volume 17, issue 1
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 17, 31–46, 2017
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 17, 31–46, 2017

Research article 02 Jan 2017

Research article | 02 Jan 2017

Air quality improvement in a megacity: implications from 2015 Beijing Parade Blue pollution control actions

Wen Xu1,a,*, Wei Song2,*, Yangyang Zhang1,*, Xuejun Liu1, Lin Zhang3, Yuanhong Zhao3, Duanyang Liu4, Aohan Tang1, Daowei Yang1, Dandan Wang1, Zhang Wen1, Yuepeng Pan5, David Fowler6, Jeffrey L. Collett Jr.7, Jan Willem Erisman8, Keith Goulding9, Yi Li10, and Fusuo Zhang1 Wen Xu et al.
  • 1College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, Center for Resources, Environment and Food Security, Key Laboratory of Plant–Soil Interactions of MOE, China Agricultural University, Beijing, 100193, China
  • 2Institute of Surface–Earth System Science, Tianjin University, Tianjin, 300072, China
  • 3Laboratory for Climate and Ocean–Atmosphere Studies, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, School of Physics, Peking University, Beijing, 100871, China
  • 4Jiangsu Meteorological Observatory, Nanjing, 210008, China
  • 5State Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Boundary Layer Physics and Atmospheric Chemistry (LAPC), Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100029, China
  • 6Centre for Ecology and Hydrology Edinburgh, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian, EH26 0QB, UK
  • 7Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
  • 8Louis Bolk Institute, Hoofdstraat 24, 3972 LA Driebergen, the Netherlands
  • 9The Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems Department, Rothamsted Research, West Common, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ, UK
  • 10Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Phoenix, AZ 85007, USA
  • acurrent address: State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shuangqing Road 18, Haidian District, Beijing, 100085, China
  • *These authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract. The implementation of strict emission control measures in Beijing and surrounding regions during the 2015 China Victory Day Parade provided a valuable opportunity to investigate related air quality improvements in a megacity. We measured NH3, NO2 and PM2.5 at multiple sites in and outside Beijing and summarized concentrations of PM2.5, PM10, NO2, SO2 and CO in 291 cities across China from a national urban air quality monitoring network between August and September 2015. Consistently significant reductions of 12–35 % for NH3 and 33–59 % for NO2 in different areas of Beijing during the emission control period (referred to as the Parade Blue period) were observed compared with measurements in the pre- and post-Parade Blue periods without emission controls. Average NH3 and NO2 concentrations at sites near traffic were strongly correlated and showed positive and significant responses to traffic reduction measures, suggesting that traffic is an important source of both NH3 and NOx in urban Beijing. Daily concentrations of PM2.5 and secondary inorganic aerosol (sulfate, ammonium and nitrate) at the urban and rural sites both decreased during the Parade Blue period. During (after) the emission control period, concentrations of PM2.5, PM10, NO2, SO2 and CO from the national city-monitoring network showed the largest decrease (increase) of 34–72 % (50–214 %) in Beijing, a smaller decrease (a moderate increase) of 1–32 % (16–44 %) in emission control regions outside Beijing and an increase (decrease) of 6–16 % (−2–7 %) in non-emission-control regions of China. Integrated analysis of modelling and monitoring results demonstrated that emission control measures made a major contribution to air quality improvement in Beijing compared with a minor contribution from favourable meteorological conditions during the Parade Blue period. These results show that controls of secondary aerosol precursors (NH3, SO2 and NOx) locally and regionally are key to curbing air pollution in Beijing and probably in other mega cities worldwide.

Short summary
This paper evaluates the effectiveness of emission control measures implemented in Beijing during the Parade Blue period by integrating our own results, official-released data and modeling data. We demonstrate that emission control measures make a major contribution to air quality improvement in Beijing and surrounding regions. We conclude a joint local and regional control of secondary aerosol precursors to be key to curbing air pollution in Beijing.
Final-revised paper