Articles | Volume 17, issue 10
Research article
30 May 2017
Research article |  | 30 May 2017

Comparison of emissions inventories of anthropogenic air pollutants and greenhouse gases in China

Eri Saikawa, Hankyul Kim, Min Zhong, Alexander Avramov, Yu Zhao, Greet Janssens-Maenhout, Jun-ichi Kurokawa, Zbigniew Klimont, Fabian Wagner, Vaishali Naik, Larry W. Horowitz, and Qiang Zhang

Abstract. Anthropogenic air pollutant emissions have been increasing rapidly in China, leading to worsening air quality. Modelers use emissions inventories to represent the temporal and spatial distribution of these emissions needed to estimate their impacts on regional and global air quality. However, large uncertainties exist in emissions estimates. Thus, assessing differences in these inventories is essential for the better understanding of air pollution over China. We compare five different emissions inventories estimating emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of 10 µm or less (PM10) from China. The emissions inventories analyzed in this paper include the Regional Emission inventory in ASia v2.1 (REAS), the Multi-resolution Emission Inventory for China (MEIC), the Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research v4.2 (EDGAR), the inventory by Yu Zhao (ZHAO), and the Greenhouse Gas and Air Pollution Interactions and Synergies (GAINS). We focus on the period between 2000 and 2008, during which Chinese economic activities more than doubled. In addition to national totals, we also analyzed emissions from four source sectors (industry, transport, power, and residential) and within seven regions in China (East, North, Northeast, Central, Southwest, Northwest, and South) and found that large disagreements exist among the five inventories at disaggregated levels. These disagreements lead to differences of 67 µg m−3, 15 ppbv, and 470 ppbv for monthly mean PM10, O3, and CO, respectively, in modeled regional concentrations in China. We also find that all the inventory emissions estimates create a volatile organic compound (VOC)-limited environment and MEIC emissions lead to much lower O3 mixing ratio in East and Central China compared to the simulations using REAS and EDGAR estimates, due to their low VOC emissions. Our results illustrate that a better understanding of Chinese emissions at more disaggregated levels is essential for finding effective mitigation measures for reducing national and regional air pollution in China.

Short summary
We analyze differences in existing air pollutant emission estimates to better understand the magnitude of emissions as well as the source regions and sectors of air pollution in China. We find large disagreements among the inventories, and we show that these differences have a significant impact on regional air quality simulations. Better understanding of air pollutant emissions at more disaggregated levels is essential for air pollution mitigation in China.
Final-revised paper