Air Pollution, Greenhouse Gases & Climate

Yan Zhang, Xin Bo, Yu Zhao, and Chris P. Nielsen. 2019. “Benefits of current and future policies on emissions of China's coal-fired power sector indicated by continuous emission monitoring.” Environmental Pollution, 251, Pp. 415-424. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Emission inventories are critical to understanding the sources of air pollutants, but have high uncertainties in China due in part to insufficient on-site measurements. In this study, we developed a method of examining, screening and applying online data from the country's improving continuous emission monitoring systems (CEMS) to reevaluate a “bottom-up” emission inventory of China's coal-fired power sector. The benefits of China's current national emission standards and ultra-low emission policy for the sector were quantified assuming their full implementation. The derived national average emission factors of SO2, NOx and particulate matter (PM) were 1.00, 1.00 and 0.25 kg/t-coal respectively for 2015 based on CEMS data, smaller than those of previous studies that may not fully recognize improved emission controls in recent years. The annual emissions of SO2, NOx and PM from the sector were recalculated at 1321, 1430 and 334 Gg respectively, 75%, 63% and 76% smaller than our estimates based on a previous approach without the benefit of CEMS data. The results imply that online measurement with proper data screening can better track the recent progress of emission controls. The emission intensity (the ratio of emissions to economic output) of Northwest China was larger than that of other regions, attributed mainly to its less intensive economy and industry. Transmission of electricity to more-developed eastern provinces raised the energy consumption and emissions of less-developed regions. Judged by 95 percentiles of flue-gas concentrations measured by CEMS, most power plants met the current national emission standards in 2015 except for those in Northwest and Northeast China, while plants that met the ultra-low emission policy were much scarcer. National SO2, NOx and PM emissions would further decline by 68%, 55% and 81% respectively if the ultra-low emission policy can be strictly implemented, implying the great potential of the policy for emission abatement.
2019 Mar 07

China and Asia in a Changing Climate: Natural Science for the Non-Scientist

12:15pm to 1:45pm


CGIS South S020, Belfer Case Study Room, 1730 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA


  • Professor John Holdren, Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy, Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) and Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University; Co-Director of Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program, HKS; former Science Advisor to President Barack Obama and former Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
  • Professor Peter Huybers, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, and Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • Professor Elsie SunderlandGordon McKay Professor of Environmental Chemistry, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Professor Steve Wofsy, Abbott Lawrence Rotch Professor of Atmospheric and Environmental Science, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, and Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Chair: Professor Mike McElroy, Gilbert Butler Professor of Environmental Studies, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, and Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Chair, Harvard-China Project on Energy, Economy and Environment... Read more about China and Asia in a Changing Climate: Natural Science for the Non-Scientist

Peng Jiang, Hongyan Liu, Shilong Piao, Philippe Ciais, Xiuchen Wu, Yi Yin, and Hongya Wang. 2019. “Enhanced growth after extreme wetness compensates for post-drought carbon loss in dry forests.” Nature Communications, 10, 195. Publisher's VersionAbstract
While many studies have reported that drought events have substantial negative legacy effects on forest growth, it remains unclear whether wetness events conversely have positive growth legacy effects. Here, we report pervasive and substantial growth enhancement after extreme wetness by examining tree radial growth at 1929 forest sites, satellite-derived vegetation greenness, and land surface model simulations. Enhanced growth after extreme wetness lasts for 1 to 5 years and compensates for 93 ± 8% of the growth deficit after extreme drought across global water-limited regions. Remarkable wetness-enhanced growths are observed in dry forests and gymnosperms, whereas the enhanced growths after extreme wetness are much smaller in wet forests and angiosperms. Limited or no enhanced growths are simulated by the land surface models after extreme wetness. These findings provide new evidence for improving climate-vegetation models to include the legacy effects of both drought and wet climate extremes.
Jianxiong Sheng, Shaojie Song, Yuzhong Zhang, Ronald G. Prinn, and Greet Janssens-Maenhout. 2019. “Bottom-up estimates of coal mine methane emissions in China: A gridded inventory, emission factors, and trends.” Environmental Science and Technology Letters, 6 (8), Pp. 473-478. Publisher's VersionAbstract
China has large but uncertain coal mine methane (CMM) emissions. Inverse modeling (top-down) analyses of atmospheric methane observations can help improve the emission estimates but require reliable emission patterns as prior information. To serve this urgent need, we developed a high-resolution (0.25° × 0.25°) methane emission inventory for China’s coal mining using a recent publicly available database of more than 10000 coal mines in China for 2011. This number of coal mines is 25 and 2.5 times, respectively, more than the number available in the EDGAR v4.2 and EDGAR v4.3.2 gridded global inventories, which have been extensively used in past inverse analyses. Our inventory shows large differences with the EDGAR v4.2 as well as its more recent version, EDGAR v4.3.2. Our results suggest that China’s CMM emissions have been decreasing since 2012 on the basis of coal mining activities and assuming time-invariant emission factors but that regional trends differ greatly. Use of our inventory as prior information in future inverse modeling analyses can help better quantify CMM emissions as well as more confidently guide the future mitigation of coal to gas in China.
Meng Gao, Yihui Ding, Shaojie Song, Xiao Lu, Xinyu Chen, and Michael B. McElroy. 2018. “Secular decrease of wind power potential in India associated with warming Indian Ocean.” Science Advances, 4, 12. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The Indian government has set an ambitious target for future renewable power generation, including 60 GW of cumulative wind power capacity by 2022. However, the benefits of these substantial investments are vulnerable to the changing climate. On the basis of hourly wind data from an assimilated meteorology reanalysis dataset covering the 1980–2016 period, we show that wind power potential may have declined secularly over this interval, particularly in western India. Surface temperature data confirm that significant warming occurred in the Indian Ocean over the study period, leading to modulation of high pressure over the ocean. A multivariable linear regression model incorporating the pressure gradient between the Indian Ocean and the Indian subcontinent can account for the interannual variability of wind power. A series of numerical sensitivity experiments confirm that warming in the Indian Ocean contributes to subsidence and dampening of upward motion over the Indian continent, resulting potentially in weakening of the monsoonal circulation and wind speeds over India.
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∘×0.25∘" 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.
Mengyao Han, Bo Zhang, Yuqing Zhang, and Chenghe Guan. 2019. “Agricultural CH4 and N2O emissions of major economies: Consumption- vs. production-based perspectives.” Journal of Cleaner Production, 210, Pp. 276-286. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Agriculture is one of the most important sectors for global anthropogenic methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. While much attention has been paid to production-side agricultural non-CO2 greenhouse gas (ANGHG) emissions, less is known about the emissions from the consumption-based perspective. This paper aims to explore the characteristics of agricultural CH4 and N2O emissions of global major economies by using the latest emission data from the Food and Agriculture Organization Corporate Statistical Database (FAOSTAT) and the recently available global multi-regional input-output model from the World Input-Output Database (WIOD). The results show that in 2014, the 42 major economies together accounted for 60.7% and 65.0% of global total direct and embodied ANGHG emissions, respectively. The consumption-based ANGHG emissions in the US, Japan, and the EU were much higher than their production-based emissions, while the converse was true for Brazil, Australia, and India. The global-average embodied ANGHG emissions per capita was 0.7 t CO2-eq, but major developing countries such as China, India, Indonesia and Mexico were all below this average value. We find that the total transfer of embodied ANGHG emissions via international trade was 622.4 Mt CO2-eq, 11.9% of the global total. China was the largest exporter of embodied ANGHG emissions, while the US was the largest importer. Most developed economies were net importers of embodied emissions. Mexico-US, China-US, China-EU, China-Japan, China-Russia, Brazil-EU, India-EU and India-US formed the main bilateral trading pairs of embodied emission flows. Examining consumption-based inventories can be useful for understanding the impacts of final demand and international trade on agricultural GHG emissions and identifying appropriate mitigation potentials along global supply chains.