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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-1121
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-1121
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 04 Dec 2018

Research article | 04 Dec 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Satellite Data Reveals a Common Combustion Emission Pathway for Major Cities in China

Wenfu Tang1,*, Avelino F. Arellano1,*, Benjamin Gaubert2, Kazuyuki Miyazaki3, and Helen M. Worden2 Wenfu Tang et al.
  • 1Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 85721, USA
  • 2National Center for Atmospheric Research, Atmospheric Chemistry Observations and Modeling Laboratory, Boulder, CO 80301, USA
  • 3Japan Agency for Marine – Earth Science and Technology, Yokohama, Japan
  • *These authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract. Extensive fossil fuel combustion in rapidly-developing cities severely affects air quality and public health. We report observational evidence of decadal changes in the efficiency and cleanness of bulk combustion over large cities in mainland China. We combine air quality retrievals from mature satellite instruments across 2005–2014 to estimate the trends in enhancement ratios of CO and SO2 to NO2 (ΔCO/ΔNO2 and ΔSO2/ΔNO2) over these cities and infer emergent bulk combustion properties. Our results show a robust coherent progression of declining-to-growing ΔCO/ΔNO2 (−5.4±0.7% to +8.3±3.1%) and slowly-declining ΔSO2/ΔNO2 (−6.0±1.0% to −3.4±1.0%) from Shenyang, Beijing, Shanghai, to Shenzhen relative to 2005, which is not evident in the trends of emission ratios reported in Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP8.5) inventory. This progression is likely due to a shift towards cleaner combustion from industrial and residential sectors in Shanghai and Shenzhen, which is presently obfuscated by China's still relatively higher dependence on coal. Such progression is well-correlated with economic development and traces a common emission pathway that resembles evolution of air pollution in more developed cities. Our results highlight the utility of augmenting observing and modeling capabilities by exploiting enhancement ratios in constraining the time variation of emission ratios in current inventories. The ability to monitor combustion efficiency and effectiveness of pollution control becomes increasingly important in assessing sustainable control strategies as cities and/or countries continue to socioeconomically develop.

Wenfu Tang et al.
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