Modeling the contributions of emission, meteorology, and chemistry to high PM2.5 levels over China
Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 4:30 PM
PM2.5 is known to harm health and public welfare. In recent years, regional haze with PM2.5 levels exceeding ten folds of WHO’s air quality guideline has become the largest air quality concern in China. To better protect the health of millions of people, the key question is whether we understand the formation mechanism of high PM2.5 episodes well enough to guide the formation of effective control strategies. Here we present a modeling analysis in conjunction of observational constraints to estimate the contribution of emissions, meteorology, and secondary chemical formation to changes in PM2.5 levels over China. Certain meteorological conditions are found particularly conducive to trigger fast increases of secondary PM under current emissions mixtures in China. While the nested-grid GEOS-Chem model reproduces the distribution of PM2.5 and simulates up to ~400 μg/m3 of daily maximum PM2.5, it fails to capture the large sulfate enhancement during haze. We propose heterogeneous oxidation of SO2 on deliquesced aerosols as an additional source of sulfate under high relative humidity conditions. Parameterizing this process in the model improves the simulated spatial distribution and results in significant increases of sulfate enhancement ratio and sulfate fraction in PM2.5 during haze episodes. Implications of our modeling analysis for PM2.5 pollution control policies will also be discussed.