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Characteristics and recent trends of sulfur dioxide at urban, rural, and background sites in North China: Effectiveness of control measures

Lin, Weili, Xu, Xiaobin, Ma, Zhiqiang, Zhao, Huarong, Liu, Xiwen, Wang, Ying
Journal of environmental sciences (China) 2012 v.24 no.1 pp. 34-49
air, control methods, diurnal variation, games, heat, mixing, pollution, pollution control, relative humidity, rural areas, sulfur dioxide, summer, temperature, urban areas, wind direction, wind speed, winter, China
SO₂ measurements made in recent years at sites in Beijing and its surrounding areas are performed to study the variations and trends of surface SO₂ at different types of sites in Northern China. The overall average concentrations of SO₂ are (16.8 ± 13.1) ppb, (14.8 ± 9.4) ppb, and (7.5 ± 4.0) ppb at China Meteorological Administration (CMA, Beijing urban area), Gucheng (GCH, relatively polluted rural area, 110 km to the southwest of Beijing urban area), and Shangdianzi (SDZ, clean background area, 100 km to the northeast of Beijing urban area), respectively. The SO₂ levels in winter (heating season) are 4-6 folds higher than those in summer. There are highly significant correlations among the daily means of SO₂ at different sites, indicating regional characteristics of SO₂ pollution. Diurnal patterns of surface SO₂ at all sites have a common feature with a daytime peak, which is probably caused by the downward mixing and/or the advection transport of SO₂-richer air over the North China Plain. The concentrations of SO₂ at CMA and GCH show highly significant downward trends (−4.4 ppb/yr for CMA and −2.4 ppb/yr for GCH), while a less significant trend (−0.3 ppb/yr) is identified in the data from SDZ, reflecting the character of SDZ as a regional atmospheric background site in North China. The SO₂ concentrations of all three sites show a significant decrease from period before to after the control measures for the 2008 Olympic Games, suggesting that the SO₂ pollution control has long-term effectiveness and benefits. In the post-Olympics period, the mean concentrations of SO₂ at CMA, GCH, and SDZ are (14.3 ± 11.0) ppb, (12.1 ± 7.7) ppb, and (7.5 ± 4.0) ppb, respectively, with reductions of 26%, 36%, and 13%, respectively, compared to the levels before. Detailed analysis shows that the differences of temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and wind direction were not the dominant factors for the significant differences of SO2 between the pre-Olympics and post-Olympics periods. By extracting the data being more representative of local or regional characteristics, a reduction of up to 40% for SO2 in polluted areas and a reduction of 20% for regional SO2 are obtained for the effect of control measures implemented for the Olympic Games.