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Evolution of the vertical structure of air pollutants during winter heavy pollution episodes: The role of regional transport and potential sources

Hong, Qianqian, Liu, Cheng, Hu, Qihou, Xing, Chengzhi, Tan, Wei, Liu, Haoran, Huang, Yong, Zhu, Yu, Zhang, Jinsong, Geng, Tianzhao, Liu, Jianguo
Atmospheric research 2019 v.228 pp. 206-222
aerosols, air pollutants, air pollution, air pollution control, altitude, emissions, formaldehyde, models, nitrogen dioxide, photochemistry, power plants, spatial distribution, spectroscopy, sulfur dioxide, winter, China
Knowledge of vertical distribution of air pollutants is important for understanding the mechanisms underlying haze pollution. In this paper, we characterize the vertical structure of air pollutants based on ground-based Multi-Axis Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy (MAX-DOAS) measurements in the wintertime in Hefei, East China. Both NO2 and aerosol show exponentially decreasing profile with high concentrations concentrated close to the surface, suggesting the major emissions are at ground level. SO2 profiles extend to slightly higher altitudes than NO2, which might be due to the SO2 emissions from elevated point sources (e.g., power plants). Elevated HCHO was observed in the middle layer during noon time, probably indicating that the larger effect of the photochemical formation of atmospheric HCHO rather than direct HCHO emissions. Potential source contribution function (PSCF) and concentration-weighted trajectory (CWT) models were used to evaluate the potential sources of Hefei's air pollution in the lower, middle and upper boundary layer. The results revealed that the major regional source of NO2 and aerosol were located in the northern and eastern part of Anhui and the transport mainly occured in the lower layer. Transported SO2 from the northwestern regions in the middle layer made great contribution to SO2 in Hefei. HCHO was mostly produced locally while the transport of HCHO from potential source areas was negligible. To further explore the potential source contributions affecting haze pollution, PSCF and CWT analysis for heavy haze episodes suggested that the potential source areas for aerosol were almost located in the northern region, the northwestern region, and the YRD region. Our findings provide a more comprehensive understanding for regional transport through the study on potential sources at different altitudes, which are useful for designing collaborative air pollution control strategies on a regional scale.