02 Aug 2021

02 Aug 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Assessment of strict autumn-winter emission controls on air quality in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region

Gongda Lu1, Eloise A. Marais2, Tuan V. Vu1,a, Jingsha Xu1,b, Zongbo Shi1, James D. Lee3,4, Qiang Zhang5, Lu Shen6, Gan Luo7, and Fangqun Yu7 Gongda Lu et al.
  • 1School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK
  • 2Department of Geography, University College London, London, WC1E 6BT, UK
  • 3Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories, University of York, York, YO10 5DD, UK
  • 4National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK
  • 5Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Earth System Modeling, Department of Earth System Science, Tsinghua University, Beijing, 100084, China
  • 6John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
  • 7Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, State University of New York at Albany, 251 Fuller Road, Albany, New York, 12203, USA
  • anow at: School of Public Health, Imperial College London, London, W2 1PG, UK
  • bnow at: Department of Chemistry, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK

Abstract. Strict seasonal emission controls are a popular measure in China for addressing severe air pollution, in particular fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Here we evaluate the efficacy of these measures, with a particular focus on the strict emission controls imposed on pollution sources in 28 cities in and around the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region (BTH) in autumn-winter 2017/2018. For this we use the GEOS-Chem chemical transport model and air pollutant measurements from the national and Beijing local monitoring networks, after evaluating the network data with independent measurements and correcting large biases in the bottom-up emissions inventory. The network measurements are temporally consistent (r > 0.9 for PM2.5 and r > 0.7 for gases) with the independent measurements, though with systematic differences of 5–17 % for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and 16–28 % for carbon monoxide (CO). The average decrease in monitoring network PM2.5 in BTH in autumn-winter 2017/2018 relative to the previous year is 27 %, declining from 103 to 75 µg m−3. The regional decline in PM2.5 in the model is 20 %, exceeding the regional target of 15 %. According to the model, pollution control measures led to decline in PM2.5 precursor emissions of 0.27 Tg NOx (as NO), 0.66 Tg sulfur dioxide (SO2), 70 Gg organic carbon (OC), and 50 Gg black carbon (BC). We find though that these alone only lead to an 8 % decline in PM2.5 and that interannual variability in meteorology accounts for more than half (57 %) the decline. This demonstrates that year-on-year comparisons are misleading for assessing the efficacy of air pollution measures and should be taken into consideration when extending such measures beyond BTH.

Gongda Lu et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2021-428', Anonymous Referee #1, 17 Aug 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on acp-2021-428', Anonymous Referee #2, 24 Aug 2021

Gongda Lu et al.

Data sets

GEOS-Chem model outputs used in Lu et al.: Assessment of strict autumn-winter emission controls on air quality in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region Gongda Lu

Gongda Lu et al.


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Short summary
Emission controls were imposed in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei in northern China in autumn-winter 2017. We find that regional PM2.5 targets (15 % decrease relative to previous year) were exceeded. Our analysis shows that decline in precursor emissions only leads to less than half (43 %) the improved air quality. Most of the change (57 %) is due to interannual variability in meteorology. Stricter emission controls may be necessary in years with unfavourable meteorology.