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https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-196
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-196
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 31 Mar 2020

Submitted as: research article | 31 Mar 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

The Warming Tibetan Plateau improves winter air quality in the Sichuan Basin, China

Shuyu Zhao1, Tian Feng2, Xuexi Tie1,3, and Zebin Wang4 Shuyu Zhao et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory of Aerosol Chemistry and Physics, SKLLQG, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi'an, 710061, China
  • 2Department of Geography & Spatial Information Techniques, Ningbo University, Ningbo, 315211, China
  • 3Center for Excellence in Urban Atmospheric Environment, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiamen, 361021, China
  • 4Northwest Air Traffic Management Bureau, Civil Aviation Administration of China, Xi'an, 712000, China

Abstract. Impacts of global climate change on the occurrence and development of air pollution have attracted more attentions. This study investigates impacts of the warming Tibetan Plateau on air quality in the Sichuan Basin. Meteorological observations and ERA-interim reanalysis data reveal that the Tibetan Plateau has been rapidly warming during the last 40 years (1979–2017), particularly in winter when the warming rate is approximately twice as much as the annual warming rate. Since 2013, the winter temperature over the plateau has even risen by 2 °C. Here, we use the WRF-CHEM model to assess the impact of the 2 °C warming on air quality in the Sichuan Basin. The model results show that the 2 °C warming causes an increase in the Planetary Boundary Layer (PBL) height and a decrease in the relative humidity (RH) in the basin. The elevated PBL height strengthens vertical diffusion of PM2.5, while the decreased RH significantly reduces secondary aerosol formation. Overall, PM2.5 concentration is reduced by 17.5 % (~ 25.1 μg m−3), of which the reduction in primary and secondary aerosols is 5.4 μg m−3 and 19.7 μg m−3, respectively. These results reveal that the recent warming plateau has improved air quality in the basin, to some certain extent, mitigating the air pollution therein. Nevertheless, climate system is particularly complicated, and more studies are needed to demonstrate the impact of climate change on air quality in the downstream regions as the plateau is likely to continue warming.

Shuyu Zhao et al.

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Short summary
The Tibetan Plateau has been experiencing a rapid warming during the last 40 years, particularly in winter. The warming leads to an increase in the planetary boundary layer height and a decrease in the relative humidity in the Sichuan Basin, causing a reduction of PM2.5 concentration by 17.5 % (~ 25.1 μg m−3), of which the reduction in secondary aerosols is 19.7 μg m−3, respectively. These findings indicate that the warming plateau plays important roles in mitigating air quality in the downstream.
The Tibetan Plateau has been experiencing a rapid warming during the last 40 years, particularly...
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