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Unraveling the relationships between boundary layer height and PM2.5 pollution in China based on four-year radiosonde measurements

Miao, Yucong, Liu, Shuhua, Guo, Jianping, Huang, Shunxiang, Yan, Yan, Lou, Mengyun
Environmental pollution 2018 v.243 pp. 1186-1195
autumn, basins, cities, emissions, landscapes, mountains, particulates, pollution, seasonal variation, spring, summer, thermal stability, troposphere, winter, China
Most cities in China experience frequent PM2.5 pollution, in relation to unfavorable planetary boundary layer (PBL) conditions. Partly due to the limited appropriate PBL observations, the explicit relationships between PBL structure/process and PM2.5 pollution in China are not yet clearly understood. Using the fine-resolution sounding measurements from 2014 to 2017, the relationships between boundary layer height (BLH) and PM2.5 pollution in China were systematically examined. Four regions of interest (ROIs) featured with dense population and heavy pollution were studied and compared, including Northeast China (NEC), North China Plain (NCP), East China (EC), and Sichuan Basin (SCB). From 2014 to 2017, the heaviest PM2.5 pollution happened in NCP with an annual average concentration of 84 μg m−3, followed by NEC (60 μg m−3), SCB (57 μg m−3), and EC (54 μg m−3). Correlation analyses revealed a significant anti-correlation between BLH and daily PM2.5 concentrations across China, independent of ROIs. During an annual cycle, the pollution was heaviest in winter, followed by fall and spring, and reached its minimum in summer. Such a seasonal variation of pollution was not only modulated by the emissions, but also the seasonal shifts of BLH. The low BLH in winter was often associated with strong near-surface thermal stability. Moreover, certain synoptic conditions in winter can exacerbate the pollution, leading to concurrent drops of BLH and synchronous increases of PM2.5 concentration in different cities of a ROI. In NCP and SCB, the mountainous terrains could further worsen the pollution by blocking effects and lee eddies.