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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-880
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-880
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 05 Sep 2018

Research article | 05 Sep 2018

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

Rapid SO2 emission reductions significantly increase tropospheric ammonia concentrations over the North China Plain

Mingxu Liu1, Xin Huang2, Yu Song1, Tingting Xu1, Shuxiao Wang3, Zhijun Wu1, Min Hu1, Lin Zhang4, Qiang Zhang5, Yuepeng Pan6, and Tong Zhu1 Mingxu Liu et al.
  • 1State Key Joint Laboratory of Environmental Simulation and Pollution Control, Department of Environmental Science, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • 2Joint International Research Laboratory of Atmospheric and Earth System Sciences, School of Atmospheric Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China
  • 3State Key Joint Laboratory of Environmental Simulation and Pollution Control, School of Environment, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
  • 4Laboratory for Climate and Ocean–Atmosphere Studies, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, School of Physics, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • 5Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Earth System Modeling, Center for Earth System Science, Institute for Global Change Studies, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
  • 6State Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Boundary Layer Physics and Atmospheric Chemistry (LAPC), Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

Abstract. The North China Plain has been identified as a significant hotspot of ammonia (NH3) due to extensive agricultural activities. Satellite observations suggest a significant increase of about 30% in tropospheric gas-phase NH3 concentrations in this area during 2008–2016. However, the estimated NH3 emissions decreased slightly because of changes in Chinese agricultural practices, i.e., the transition in fertilizer types from ammonium carbonate fertilizer to urea, and in the livestock rearing system from free-range to intensive farming. We note that the emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) have rapidly declined by 60% over recent few years. By integrating in situ measurement datasets, multi-year NH3 emission inventories, and chemical transport model simulations, we demonstrate that the increases in NH3 can be almost entirely attributable to this rapid SO2 emission reduction. The annual average sulfate concentrations decreased by about 50%, which significantly weakened the formation of ammonium sulfate and increased the average proportions of gas phase NH3 within the total NH3 column concentrations from 26% (2008) to 37% (2016). Both the decreases in sulfate and increases in NH3 concentrations show highest values in summer, possibly because the formation of sulfate aerosols is more sensitive to SO2 emission reductions in summer than in other seasons.

Mingxu Liu et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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