Air Pollution, Greenhouse Gases & Climate

Haikun Wang, Xiaojing He, Xinyu Liang, Ernani F. Choma, Yifan Liu, Li Shan, Haotian Zheng, Shaojun Zhang, Chris Nielsen, Shuxiao Wang, Ye Wu, and John Evans. 2020. “Health benefits of on-road transportation pollution control programs in China.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Sept 2020, 201921271. Publisher's VersionAbstract
China started to implement comprehensive measures to mitigate traffic pollution at the end of 1990s, but the comprehensive effects, especially on ambient air quality and public health, have not yet been systematically evaluated. In this study, we analyze the effects of vehicle emission control measures on ambient air pollution and associated deaths attributable to long-term exposures of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and O3 based on an integrated research framework that combines scenario analysis, air quality modeling, and population health risk assessment. We find that the total impact of these control measures was substantial. Vehicular emissions during 1998–2015 would have been 2–3 times as large as they actually were, had those measures not been implemented. The national population-weighted annual average concentrations of PM2.5 and O3 in 2015 would have been higher by 11.7 μg/m3 and 8.3 parts per billion, respectively, and the number of deaths attributable to 2015 air pollution would have been higher by 510 thousand (95% confidence interval: 360 thousand to 730 thousand) without these controls. Our analysis shows a concentration of mortality impacts in densely populated urban areas, motivating local policymakers to design stringent vehicle emission control policies. The results imply that vehicle emission control will require policy designs that are more multifaceted than traditional controls, primarily represented by the strict emission standards, with careful consideration of the challenges in coordinated mitigation of both PM2.5 and O3 in different regions, to sustain improvement in air quality and public health given continuing swift growth in China’s vehicle population.
2020 Sep 16

Electrification and Decarbonization: Analysis of Experiences from China, the US and EU

10:00am to 11:15am


Zoom - Registration Required

A Harvard-China Project Research Seminar with Xi Lu, Associate Professor, School of Environment, Tsinghua University; Alumnus (Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, and Research Associate) and Collaborator, Harvard-China Project

REGISTRATION REQUIRED:  https://harvard....

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X. Lu, L. Zhang, T. Wu, M. S. Long, J. Wang, D.J. Jacob, F. Zhang, J. Zhang, S. D. Eastham, L. Hu, L. Zhu, X. Liu, and M. Wei. 2020. “Development of the global atmospheric general circulation-chemistry model BCC-GEOS-Chem v1.0: model description and evaluation.” Geoscientific Model Development, 13, 9, Pp. 3817–3838. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Chemistry plays an indispensable role in investigations of the atmosphere; however, many climate models either ignore or greatly simplify atmospheric chemistry, limiting both their accuracy and their scope. We present the development and evaluation of the online global atmospheric chemical model BCC-GEOS-Chem v1.0, coupling the GEOS-Chem chemical transport model (CTM) as an atmospheric chemistry component in the Beijing Climate Center atmospheric general circulation model (BCC-AGCM). The GEOS-Chem atmospheric chemistry component includes detailed troposphericHOx–NOx–volatile organic compounds–ozone–bromine–aerosol chemistry and online dry and wet deposition schemes. We then demonstrate the new capabilities of BCC-GEOS-Chem v1.0 relative to the base BCC-AGCM model through a 3-year (2012–2014) simulation with anthropogenic emissions from the Community Emissions Data System (CEDS) used in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6). The model captures well the spatial distributions and seasonal variations in tropospheric ozone, with seasonal mean biases of 0.4–2.2 ppbv at 700–400 hPa compared to satellite observations and within 10 ppbv at the surface to 500 hPa compared to global ozonesonde observations. The model has larger high-ozone biases over the tropics which we attribute to an overestimate of ozone chemical production. It underestimates ozone in the upper troposphere which is likely due either to the use of a simplified stratospheric ozone scheme or to biases in estimated stratosphere–troposphere exchange dynamics. The model diagnoses the global tropospheric ozone burden, OH concentration, and methane chemical lifetime to be 336 Tg, 1.16×106 molecule cm−3, and 8.3 years, respectively, which is consistent with recent multimodel assessments. The spatiotemporal distributions of NO2, CO, SO2, CH2O, and aerosol optical depth are generally in agreement with satellite observations. The development of BCC-GEOS-Chem v1.0 represents an important step for the development of fully coupled earth system models (ESMs) in China.
Haotian Zheng, Shaojie Song, Golam Sarwar, Masao Gen, Shuxiao Wang, Dian Ding, Xing Chang, Shuping Zhang, Jia Xing, Yele Sun, Dongsheng Ji, Chak Chan, Jian Gao, and Michael B. McElroy. 2020. “Contribution of Particulate Nitrate Photolysis to Heterogeneous Sulfate Formation for Winter Haze in China.” Environmental Science & Technology Letters , 7, 9, Pp. 632–638. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Nitrate and sulfate are two key components of airborne particulate matter (PM). While multiple formation mechanisms have been proposed for sulfate, current air quality models commonly underestimate its concentrations and mass fractions during northern China winter haze events. On the other hand, current models usually overestimate the mass fractions of nitrate. Very recently, laboratory studies have proposed that nitrous acid (N(III)) produced by particulate nitrate photolysis can oxidize sulfur dioxide to produce sulfate. Here, for the first time, we parameterize this heterogeneous mechanism into the state-of-the-art Community Multi-scale Air Quality (CMAQ) model and quantify its contributions to sulfate formation. We find that the significance of this mechanism mainly depends on the enhancement effects (by 1–3 orders of magnitude as suggested by the available experimental studies) of nitrate photolysis rate constants in aerosol liquid water compared to that in the gas phase. Comparisons between model simulations and in-situ observations in Beijing suggest that this pathway can explain about 15% (assuming an enhancement factor (EF) of 10) to 65% (assuming EF = 100) of the model–observation gaps in sulfate concentrations during winter haze. Our study strongly calls for future research on reducing the uncertainty in EF.

Signals of the Pandemic Seen in Greenhouse Gas Levels at the Harvard-Tsinghua Observatory near Beijing?

May 11, 2020

The below figures show cumulative probability distributions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), the two leading greenhouse gases, as measured in March of 2019 (red) and 2020 (green) at the Harvard-China Project’s joint observatory with Tsinghua University at Miyun, north of Beijing. Depending on prevailing winds, the site sometimes measures clean background air from the northwest and sometimes polluted air from Beijing and surrounding areas. The lowest parts of the distributions represent background air, which have higher values in...

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Meng Gao, Jinhui Gao, Bin Zhu, Rajesh Kumar, Xiao Lu, Shaojie Song, Yuzhong Zhang, Beixi Jia, Peng Wang, Gufran Beig, Jianlin Hu, Qi Ying, Hongliang Zhang, Peter Sherman, and Michael B. McElroy. 2020. “Ozone pollution over China and India: seasonality and sources.” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 20, 7, Pp. 4399-4414. Publisher's VersionAbstract
A regional fully coupled meteorology–chemistry model, Weather Research and Forecasting model with Chemistry (WRF-Chem), was employed to study the seasonality of ozone (O3) pollution and its sources in both China and India. Observations and model results suggest that O3 in the North China Plain (NCP), Yangtze River Delta (YRD), Pearl River Delta (PRD), and India exhibit distinctive seasonal features, which are linked to the influence of summer monsoons. Through a factor separation approach, we examined the sensitivity of O3 to individual anthropogenic, biogenic, and biomass burning emissions. We found that summer O3 formation in China is more sensitive to industrial and biogenic sources than to other source sectors, while the transportation and biogenic sources are more important in all seasons for India. Tagged simulations suggest that local sources play an important role in the formation of the summer O3 peak in the NCP, but sources from Northwest China should not be neglected to control summer O3 in the NCP. For the YRD region, prevailing winds and cleaner air from the ocean in summer lead to reduced transport from polluted regions, and the major source region in addition to local sources is Southeast China. For the PRD region, the upwind region is replaced by contributions from polluted PRD as autumn approaches, leading to an autumn peak. The major upwind regions in autumn for the PRD are YRD (11 %) and Southeast China (10 %). For India, sources in North India are more important than sources in the south. These analyses emphasize the relative importance of source sectors and regions as they change with seasons, providing important implications for O3 control strategies.