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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-661
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-661
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 24 Jul 2018

Research article | 24 Jul 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Spatial and temporal changes of SO2 regimes over China in recent decade and the driving mechanism

Ting Wang1, Pucai Wang1,3, Nicolas Theys2, François Hendrick2, and Michel Van Roozendael2 Ting Wang et al.
  • 1CAS Key Laboratory of Middle Atmosphere and Global Environment Observation, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 2Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (IASB-BIRA), Brussels, Belgium
  • 3University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

Abstract. The spatial and temporal changes of SO2 regimes over China during 2005 to 2016 and their associated driving mechanism are investigated based on a state-of-the-art retrieval dataset. Climatological SO2 exhibits pronounced seasonal and regional variations, with higher loadings in wintertime and two prominent maxima centered in the North China Plain and the Cheng-Yu District. In the last decade, overall SO2 decreasing trends have been reported nationwide, with spatially varying downward rates according to a general rule – the higher the SO2 loading, the more significant the decrease. However, such decline is in fact not monotonic, but instead four distinct temporal regimes can be identified by empirical orthogonal function analysis. After an initial rise at the beginning, SO2 in China undergoes two sharp drops in the periods 2007–2008 and 2014–2016, amid which 5-year moderate rebounding or stagnation is sustained. Despite spatial coherent behaviors, different mechanisms are tied to North China and South China, delimited roughly by the Yangtze River. In North China, the same four regimes are detected in the time series of emission that is expected to drive the regime of atmospheric SO2, with a percentage of explained variance amounting to 81%. Out of total emission, those from industrial sector dominate SO2 variation throughout the whole period, while household emission fluctuates little until 2008 but afterwards acts to partially offset the effect caused by industrial emission. In contrast to North China, SO2 emissions in South China exhibit a continuous descending tendency, due to the gradual cuts of industrial emissions together with a sudden downward shift of household emissions. As a result, the role of emissions only makes up about one third of the SO2 variation, primarily owing to the decoupled pathways of emission and atmospheric content during 2009 to 2013 when the emissions continue to decline but atmospheric content witnesses a rebound. Unfavorable meteorological conditions, including deficient precipitation, weaker wind speed and increased static stability, outweigh the effect of decreasing emissions and thus give rise to the rebound of SO2 during 2009 to 2013.

Ting Wang et al.
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Ting Wang et al.
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Short summary
In the last decade, four temporal regimes of SO2 in China are identified. After an initial rise, SO2 undergoes two sharp drops in 2007–2008 and 2014–2016, amid which 5-year rebounding or stagnation is sustained. Different mechanisms are tied to North and South China. The industrial emission is responsible for SO2 variation in North China, while in South China the meteorological conditions make a large contribution. The result is crucial to the understanding of SO2 changes and future polices.
In the last decade, four temporal regimes of SO2 in China are identified. After an initial rise,...
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