Publications

2019
S.J. Song, M. Gao, W.Q. Xu, Y.L. Sun, D.R. Worsnop, J.T. Jayne, Y.Z. Zhang, L. Zhu, M. Li, Z. Zhou, C.L. Cheng, Y.B. Lv, Y. Wang, W. Peng, X.B. Xu, N. Lin, Y.X. Wang, S.X. Wang, J. W. Munger, D. Jacob, and M.B. McElroy. 2019. “Possible heterogeneous hydroxymethanesulfonate (HMS) chemistry in northern China winter haze and implications for rapid sulfate formation.” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 19, Pp. 1357-1371. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The chemical mechanisms responsible for rapid sulfate production, an important driver of winter haze formation in northern China, remain unclear. Here, we propose a potentially important heterogeneous hydroxymethanesulfonate (HMS) chemical mechanism. Through analyzing field measurements with aerosol mass spectrometry, we show evidence for a possible significant existence in haze aerosols of organosulfur primarily as HMS, misidentified as sulfate in previous observations. We estimate that HMS can account for up to about one-third of the sulfate concentrations unexplained by current air quality models. Heterogeneous production of HMS by SO2 and formaldehyde is favored under northern China winter haze conditions due to high aerosol water content, moderately acidic pH values, high gaseous precursor levels, and low temperature. These analyses identify an unappreciated importance of formaldehyde in secondary aerosol formation and call for more research on sources and on the chemistry of formaldehyde in northern China winter.
ACP paper
The potential of photovoltaics to power the Belt and Road Initiative
Shi Chen, Xi Lu, Yufei Miao, Yu Deng, Chris P. Nielsen, Noah Elbot, Yuanchen Wang, Kathryn G. Logan, Michael B. McElroy, and Jiming Hao. 2019. “The potential of photovoltaics to power the Belt and Road Initiative.” Joule, 3, Pp. 1-18. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Construction of carbon-intensive energy infrastructure is well underway under the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), challenging the global climate target. Regionally abundant solar power could provide an alternative for electricity generation. An integrative spatial model was developed to evaluate the technical potential of solar photovoltaic power. The influence of impacting factors was quantified systematically on an hourly basis. Results suggest that the electricity potential for the BRI region reaches 448.9 PWh annually, 41.3 times the regional demand for electricity in 2016. Tapping 3.7% of the potential through deploying 7.8 TW capacity could satisfy the regional electricity demand projected for 2030, requiring an investment of approximately 11.2 trillion 2017 USD and a commitment in land area of 88,426 km2, approximately 0.9% of China’s total. Countries endowed with 70.7% of the overall potential consume only 30.1% of regional electricity. The imbalance underscores the advantage of regional cooperation and investments in interconnected grids.
Graphic Summary Joule full paper.pdf
Wenjie Tian, Xudong Wu, Rong Ma, and Bo Zhang. 2019. “Quantifying global CH4 and N2O footprints.” Journal of Environmental Management, 251, 109566. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This study aims to quantify global CH4 and N2O footprints in 2012 in terms of 181 economies and 20 world regions based on the official national emission accounts from the UNFCCC database and the global multi-region input-output accounts from the EORA database. Global total CH4 and N2O emissions increased by 15.0% in 2012 compared to 1990, mainly driven by increasing demands of agricultural and energy products. Mainland China, Western Europe, the USA, Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa were identified as the largest five CH4 footprint contributors (55.6% of the global total), while Mainland China, the USA, Western Europe, Brazil and Sub-Saharan Africa as the largest N2O footprint contributors (59.2% of the global total). In most developed economies, the CH4 and N2O footprints were much higher than their emissions on the production side, but opposite picture is observed in emerging economies. 36.4% and 24.8% of the global CH4 and N2O emissions in 2012 were associated with international trade, respectively. Substantial energy-related CH4 and agricultural CH4 and N2O emissions were transferred from developed countries to developing countries. Several nations within Kyoto targets have reduced their CH4 and N2O emissions significantly between 1990 and 2012, but the generally-believed success is challenged when viewing from the consumption side. Mainland China, Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Brazil, Middle East and India witnessed prominent increase of CH4 and N2O footprints in the same period. The structure and spatial patterns of global CH4 and N2O footprints shed light on the role of consumption-side actions and international cooperation for future non-CO2 GHG emission reduction.
Hongjian Wei, Wenzhi Liu, Xinyu Chen, Qing Yang, Jiashuo Li, and Hanping Chen. 2019. “Renewable bio-jet fuel production for aviation: a review.” Fuel, 254. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Due to excessive greenhouse gas emissions and high dependence on traditional petroleum jet fuel, the sustainable development of the aviation industry has drawn increasing attention worldwide. One of the most promising strategies is to develop and industrialize alternative aviation fuels produced from renewable resources, e.g. biomass. Renewable bio-jet fuel has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions over their life cycle, which make bio-jet fuels an attractive substitution for aviation fuels. This paper provided an overview on the conversion technologies, economic assessment, environmental influence and development status of bio-jet fuels. The results suggested that hydrogenated esters and fatty acids, and Fischer-Tropsch synthesis can be the most promising technologies for bio-jet fuels production in near term. Future works, such as searching for more suitable feedstock, improving competitiveness for alternative jet fuels, meeting emission reduction targets in large-scale production and making measures for the indirect impact are needed for further investigation. The large-scale deployment of bio-jet fuels could achieve significant potentials of both bio-jet fuels production and CO2 emissions reduction based on future available biomass feedstock.

Meng Gao, Peter Sherman, Shaojie Song, Yueyue Yu, Zhiwei Wu, and Michael B. McElroy. 2019. “Seasonal prediction of Indian wintertime aerosol pollution using the Ocean Memory Effect.” Science Advances, 5, 7. Publisher's VersionAbstract
As China makes every effort to control air pollution, India emerges as the world’s most polluted country, receiving worldwide attention with frequent winter (boreal) haze extremes. In this study, we found that the interannual variability of wintertime aerosol pollution over northern India is regulated mainly by a combination of El Niño and the Antarctic Oscillation (AAO). Both El Niño sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies and AAO-induced Indian Ocean Meridional Dipole SST anomalies can persist from autumn to winter, offering prospects for a prewinter forecast of wintertime aerosol pollution over northern India. We constructed a multivariable regression model incorporating El Niño and AAO indices for autumn to predict wintertime AOD. The prediction exhibits a high degree of consistency with observation, with a correlation coefficient of 0.78 (P < 0.01). This statistical model could allow the Indian government to forecast aerosol pollution conditions in winter and accordingly improve plans for pollution control.
Science_Advances_Paper.pdf
Chenghe Guan. 2019. “Spatial distribution of high-rise buildings and its relationship to public transit development in Shanghai.” Transport Policy, 81, Pp. 371-380. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The relationship between dense urban development, often represented by high-rise buildings, and its location vis-à-vis metro stations reflects the connection between transportation infrastructure and land use intensity. Existing literature on high-rise buildings has focused either on developed countries or on cities where urban and public transit developments have occurred in an uncoordinated manner. This paper examines the following questions: What is the spatial proximity and spatial correlation between high-rise buildings and metro stations in different stages of development in various parts of the city? What were some of the factors that resulted in the observed patterns? The results suggest that buildings constructed after 2000 and buildings within the urban core/Shanghai Proper districts had a greater spatial proximity to the metro stations. However, the spatial correlation, measured by the number of high-rise buildings within a 500-meter buffer from the nearest metro stations and the time-distance to these stations, is stronger in the outer districts than in the urban core. These differences can be accounted for by Shanghai’s stages of urban development, the existence of metro infrastructure when high-rise development was undertaken, and the city’s land use policies. This case study sheds light on the relationship between high-density developments and metro systems in other large cities in China and other developing countries where rapid urban development coincides with the establishment of a comprehensive public transit system.

Shaojie Song, Athanasios Nenes, Meng Gao, Yuzhong Zhang, Pengfei Liu, Jingyuan Shao, Dechao Ye, Weiqi Xu, Lu Lei, Yele Sun, Baoxian Liu, Shuxiao Wang, and Michael B. McElroy. 2019. “Thermodynamic modeling suggests declines in water uptake and acidity of inorganic aerosols in Beijing winter haze events during 2014/2015–2018/2019.” Environmental Science & Technology Letters, 6, Pp. 752-760. Publisher's VersionAbstract
During recent years, aggressive air pollution mitigation measures in northern China have resulted in considerable changes in gas and aerosol chemical composition. But it is unclear whether aerosol water content and acidity respond to these changes. The two parameters have been shown to affect heterogeneous production of winter haze aerosols. Here, we performed thermodynamic equilibrium modeling using chemical and meteorological data observed in urban Beijing for four recent winter seasons and quantified the changes in the mass growth factor and pH of inorganic aerosols. We focused on high relative humidity (>60%) conditions when submicron particles have been shown to be in the liquid state. From 2014/2015 to 2018/2019, the modeled mass growth factor decreased by about 9%–17% due to changes in aerosol compositions (more nitrate and less sulfate and chloride), and the modeled pH increased by about 0.3–0.4 unit mainly due to rising ammonia. A buffer equation is derived from semivolatile ammonia partitioning, which helps understand the sensitivity of pH to meteorological and chemical variables. The findings provide implications for evaluating the potential chemical feedback in secondary aerosol production and the effectiveness of ammonia control as a measure to alleviate winter haze.
James K. Hammitt, Fangli Geng, Xiaoqi Guo, and Chris P. Nielsen. 2019. “Valuing mortality risk in China: Comparing stated-preference estimates from 2005 and 2016.” Journal of Risk & Uncertainty, 58, 2-3, Pp. 167–186. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We estimate the marginal rate of substitution of income for reduction in current annual mortality risk (the “value per statistical life” or VSL) using stated-preference surveys administered to independent samples of the general population of Chengdu, China in 2005 and 2016. We evaluate the quality of estimates by the theoretical criteria that willingness to pay (WTP) for risk reduction should be strictly positive and nearly proportional to the magnitude of the risk reduction (evaluated by comparing answers between respondents) and test the effect of excluding respondents whose answers violate these criteria. For subsamples of respondents that satisfy the criteria, point estimates of the sensitivity of WTP to risk reduction are consistent with theory and yield estimates of VSL that are two to three times larger than estimated using the full samples. Between 2005 and 2016, estimated VSL increased sharply, from about 22,000 USD in 2005 to 550,000 USD in 2016. Income also increased substantially over this period. Attributing the change in VSL solely to the change in real income implies an income elasticity of about 3.0. Our results suggest that estimates of VSL from stated-preference studies in which WTP is not close to proportionate to the stated risk reduction may be biased downward by a factor of two or more, and that VSL is likely to grow rapidly in a population with strong economic growth, which implies that environmental-health, safety, and other policies should become increasingly protective.
Yingying Lyu. 2019. “Walking culture in China.” Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Thesis Type: D. Des dissertation..  This paper uses data from the Project's household survey in Chengdu, Sichuan.
2018
Chenghe Guan and R Mehrotra. 2018. “Can urban design intervention at scale contribute to affordable housing in dense cities? Three paradigms of spatial strategy in Mumbai, India.” Urban Design, 2, Pp. 32-43. Publisher's Version
Yaowen Zhang, Ling Shao, Xudong Sun, Mengyao Han, Xueli Zhao, Jing Meng, Bo Zhang, and Han Qiao. 2018. “Outsourcing natural resource requirements within China.” Journal of Environmental Management, 228, Pp. 292-302. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Consumption demands are final drivers for the extraction and allocation of natural resources. This paper investigates demand-driven natural resource requirements and spatial outsourcing within China in 2012 by using the latest multi-regional input-output model. Exergy is adopted as a common metric for natural resources input. The total domestic resource exergy requirements amounted to 125.5 EJ, of which the eastern area contributed the largest share of 44.5%, followed by the western area (23.9%), the central area (23.0%) and the northeastern area (8.6%). Investment was the leading final demand category, accounting for 52.9% (66.4 EJ) of national total embodied resource use (ERU). The total trade volumes of embodied resource were equivalent to 69.6% of the total direct resource input (DRI), mostly transferred from the central and western regions such as Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Shaanxi and Xinjiang to the eastern regions such as Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Shanghai. The northeastern and eastern areas had physical net imports of 1213.5 PJ and 38452.6 PJ, while the central and western inland areas had physical net exports of 6364.5 PJ and 33301.5 PJ, respectively. Shanghai, Beijing, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Guangdong had prominent ERUs which respectively were 101.6, 12.6, 11.7, 8.4 and 4.3 times of their DRIs. The ERUs of Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Ningxia and Guizhou were equal to only 17.6%, 25.3%, 27.9%, 46.0% and 50.2% of their DRIs, respectively. Regional uneven development resulted in imbalanced resource requirements across China. The findings can provide a deep understanding of China's resource-driven economic development mode, and contribute to reducing regional resource footprints and their environment outcomes under the “new normal economy”.

    Rong Ma, Bin Chen, Chenghe Guan, Jing Meng, and Bo Zhang. 2018. “Socioeconomic determinants of China’s growing CH4 emissions.” Journal of Environmental Management, 228, 15 December 2018, Pp. 103-116. Publisher's VersionAbstract
    Reducing CH4 emissions is a major global challenge, owing to the world-wide rise in emissions and concentration of CH4 in the atmosphere, especially in the past decade. China has been the greatest contributor to global anthropogenic CH4 emissions for a long time, but current understanding towards its growing emissions is insufficient. This paper aims to link China's CH4 emissions during 2005–2012 to their socioeconomic determinants by combining input-output models with structural decomposition analysis from both the consumption and income perspectives. Results show that changes in household consumption and income were the leading drivers of the CH4 growth in China, while changes in efficiency remained the strongest factor offsetting CH4 emissions. After 2007, with the global financial crisis and economic stimulus plans, embodied emissions from exports plunged but those from capital formation increased rapidly. The enabled emissions in employee compensation increased steadily over time, whereas emissions induced from firms' net surplus decreased gradually, reflecting the reform on income distribution. In addition, at the sectoral level, consumption and capital formation respectively were the greatest drivers of embodied CH4 emission changes from agriculture and manufacturing, while employee compensation largely determined the enabled emission changes across all industrial sectors. The growth of CH4 emissions in China was profoundly affected by the macroeconomic situation and the changes of economic structure. Examining economic drivers of anthropogenic CH4emissions can help formulate comprehensive mitigation policies and actions associated with economic production, supply and consumption.
    Zhaoxi Liu, Qiuwei Wu, Kang Ma, Mohammad Shahidehpour, Yusheng Xue, and Shaojun Huang. 2018. “Two-stage optimal scheduling of electric vehicle charging based on transactive control.” IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid, 10, 3, Pp. 2948-2958. Publisher's Version
    Chenghe Guan and Richard B. Peiser. 2018. “Accessibility, urban form, and property value: Toward a sustainable urban spatial structure.” Journal of Transport and Land Use, 11, 1, Pp. 1057-1080. Publisher's VersionAbstract
    The effects of metro system development and urban form on housing prices highly depend on the spatial temporal conditions of urban neighborhoods. However, scholars have not yet comprehensively examined these interactions at a neighborhood-scale. This study assesses metro access, urban form, and property value at both the district- and neighborhood-level. The study area is Pudong, Shanghai, where metro system development has coincided with rapid urban growth. Two hundred and seventy-nine neighborhoods from 13 districts of Shanghai are randomly selected for the district-level investigation and 31 neighborhoods from Pudong are selected for the neighborhood-level investigation. The analysis of variance shows that metro access is more positively correlated to property price in Pudong than other districts. The Pearson correlation, principle component, and ordinary least square regression analyses show that while accessibility attributes have a positive influence on housing prices, neighborhood characteristics also exhibit a pronounced impact on property price change over time. This study extends our knowledge on how metro system development interacts with landuse efficiency and discusses planning policies that correspond to different stages of development.
    Archana Dayalu, William Munger, Steven Wofsy, Yuxuan Wang, Thomas Nehrkorn, Yu Zhao, Michael McElroy, Chris Nielsen, and Kristina Luus. 2018. “Assessing biotic contributions to CO2 fluxes in northern China using the Vegetation, Photosynthesis and Respiration Model (VPRM-CHINA) and observations from 2005 to 2009.” Biogeosciences, 15, Pp. 6713-6729. Publisher's VersionAbstract
    Accurately quantifying the spatiotemporal distribution of the biological component of CO2 surface–atmosphere exchange is necessary to improve top-down constraints on China's anthropogenic CO2 emissions. We provide hourly fluxes of CO2 as net ecosystem exchange (NEE; µmol CO2 m−2 s−1) on a 0.25&#x2218;&#xD7;0.25&#x2218;" id="MathJax-Element-1-Frame" role="presentation" style="position: relative;" tabindex="0">0.25×0.25 grid by adapting the Vegetation, Photosynthesis, and Respiration Model (VPRM) to the eastern half of China for the time period from 2005 to 2009; the minimal empirical parameterization of the VPRM-CHINA makes it well suited for inverse modeling approaches. This study diverges from previous VPRM applications in that it is applied at a large scale to China's ecosystems for the first time, incorporating a novel processing framework not previously applied to existing VPRM versions. In addition, the VPRM-CHINA model prescribes methods for addressing dual-cropping regions that have two separate growing-season modes applied to the same model grid cell. We evaluate the VPRM-CHINA performance during the growing season and compare to other biospheric models. We calibrate the VPRM-CHINA with ChinaFlux and FluxNet data and scale up regionally using Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model v3.6.1 meteorology and MODIS surface reflectances. When combined with an anthropogenic emissions model in a Lagrangian particle transport framework, we compare the ability of VPRM-CHINA relative to an ensemble mean of global hourly flux models (NASA CMS – Carbon Monitoring System) to reproduce observations made at a site in northern China. The measurements are heavily influenced by the northern China administrative region. Modeled hourly time series using vegetation fluxes prescribed by VPRM-CHINA exhibit low bias relative to measurements during the May–September growing season. Compared to NASA CMS subset over the study region, VPRM-CHINA agrees significantly better with measurements. NASA CMS consistently underestimates regional uptake in the growing season. We find that during the peak growing season, when the heavily cropped North China Plain significantly influences measurements, VPRM-CHINA models a CO2 uptake signal comparable in magnitude to the modeled anthropogenic signal. In addition to demonstrating efficacy as a low-bias prior for top-down CO2 inventory optimization studies using ground-based measurements, high spatiotemporal resolution models such as the VPRM are critical for interpreting retrievals from global CO2 remote-sensing platforms such as OCO-2 and OCO-3 (planned). Depending on the satellite time of day and season of crossover, efforts to interpret the relative contribution of the vegetation and anthropogenic components to the measured signal are critical in key emitting regions such as northern China – where the magnitude of the vegetation CO2 signal is shown to be equivalent to the anthropogenic signal.
    BG paper.pdf
    Michael.B. McElroy. 2018. “Can China address air pollution and climate change?” In The China Questions: Critical Insights into a Rising Power, edited by Jennifer Rudolph and Michael Szonyi. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Publisher's Version
    Govinda R. Timilsina, Jing Cao, and Mun S. Ho. 2018. “Carbon tax for achieving China's NDC: Simulations of some design features using a CGE model.” Climate Change Economics, 9, 3. Publisher's VersionAbstract
    China has set a goal of reducing its CO2 intensity of GDP by 60–65% from the 2005 level in 2030 as its nationally determined contribution (NDC) under the Paris Climate Change Agreement. While the government is considering series of market and nonmarket measures to achieve its target, this study assesses the economic consequences if the target were to meet through a market mechanism, carbon tax. We used a dynamic computable general equilibrium model of China for the analysis. The study shows that the level of carbon tax to achieve the NDC target would be different depending on its design features. An increasing carbon tax that starts at a small rate in 2015 and rises to a level to meet the NDC target in 2030 would cause smaller GDP loss than the carbon tax with a constant rate would do. The GDP loss due to the carbon tax would be smaller when the tax revenue is utilized to cut existing distortionary taxes than when it is transferred to households as a lump-sum rebate.
    Xinyu Chen, Junling Huang, Qing Yang, Chris P. Nielsen, Dongbo Shi, and Michael B. McElroy. 2018. “Changing carbon content of Chinese coal and implications for emissions of CO2.” Journal of Cleaner Production, 194, Pp. 150-157. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    The changing carbon content of coal consumed in China between 2002 and 2012 is quantified using information from the power sector. The carbon content decreased by 7.7% over this interval, the decrease particularly pronounced between 2007 and 2009. Inferences with respect to the changing carbon content of coal and the oxidation rate for its consumption, combined with the recent information on coal use in China, are employed to evaluate the trend in emissions of CO2. Emissions are estimated to have increased by 158% between 2002 and 2012, from 3.9 Gt y-1 to 9.2 Gt y-1. Our estimated emissions for 2005 are notably consistent with data reported by China in its “Second National Communication” to the UN (NDRC, 2012) and significantly higher than the estimation published recently in Nature. The difference is attributed, among other factors, to the assumption of a constant carbon content of coal in the latter study. The results indicate that CO2 emissions of China in 2005 reported by Second National Communication are more reliable to serve as the baseline for China's future carbon commitments (e.g. those in Paris Agreement of the UNFCCC). Discrepancies between national and provincial statistics on coal production and consumption are investigated and attributed primarily to anomalous reporting on interprovincial trade in four heavily industrialized provinces.

    Bo Zhang, Xueli Zhao, Xiaofang Wu, Mengyao Han, Chenghe Guan, and Shaojie Song. 2018. “Consumption‐based accounting of global anthropogenic CH4 emissions.” Earth's Future, 6, 9, Pp. 1349-1363. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    Global anthropogenic CH4 emissions have witnessed a rapid increase in the last decade. However, how this increase is connected with its socioeconomic drivers has not yet been explored. In this paper, we highlight the impacts of final demand and international trade on global anthropogenic CH4 emissions based on the consumption‐based accounting principle. We find that household consumption was the largest final demand category, followed by fixed capital formation and government consumption. The position and function of nations and major economies to act on the structure and spatial patterns of global CH4 emissions were systematically clarified. Substantial geographic shifts of CH4emissions during 2000‐2012 revealed the prominent impact of international trade. In 2012, about half of global CH4 emissions were embodied in international trade, of which 77.8% were from intermediate trade and 22.2% from final trade. Mainland China was the largest exporter of embodied CH4 emissions, while the USA was the largest importer. Developed economies such as Western Europe, the USA and Japan were major net receivers of embodied emission transfer, mainly from developing countries. CH4emission footprints of nations were closely related to their human development indexes (HDIs) and per capita gross domestic products (GDPs). Our findings could help to improve current understanding of global anthropogenic CH4 emission increases, and to pinpoint regional and sectoral hotspots for possible emission mitigation in the entire supply chains from production to consumption.

     

    zhang_et_al-2018-earth27s_future.pdf
    Jonathan M. Moch, Eleni Dovrou, Loretta J. Mickley, Frank N. Keutsch, Yuan Cheng, Daniel J. Jacob, Jingkun Jiang, Meng Li, J. William Munger, Xiaohui Qiao, and Qiang Zhang. 2018. “Contribution of hydroxymethane sulfonate to ambient particulate matter: A potential explanation for high particulate sulfur during severe winter haze in Beijing.” Geophysical Research Letters, 45, Pp. 11969-11979. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    PM 2.5 during severe winter haze in Beijing, China, has reached levels as high as 880μg/m3, with sulfur compounds contributing significantly to PM 2.5 composition. This sulfur has been traditionally assumed to be sulfate, although atmospheric chemistry models are unable to account for such large sulfate enhancements under dim winter conditions. Using a 1-D model, we show that well-characterized but previously overlooked chemistry of aqueous-phase HCHO and S(IV) in cloud droplets to form a S(IV)-HCHO adduct, hydroxymethane sulfonate, may explain high particulate sulfur in wintertime Beijing. We also demonstrate in the laboratory that methods of ion chromatography typically used to measure ambient particulates easily misinterpret hydroxymethane sulfonate as sulfate. Our findings suggest that HCHO and not SO2 has been the limiting factor in many haze events in Beijing and that to reduce severe winter pollution in this region, policymakers may need to address HCHO sources such as transportation.

     

    GRL paper.pdf

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