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Water Vapour, the Amplifier of Haze Pollution in China
author: source: Time:2017-12-27 font< big medium small >

In recent years, severe haze events often occurred in China, causing serious environmental problems. North China Plain became one of the heavy areas of haze pollution. The mechanisms responsible for the haze formation, however, are still not well understood, hindering the forecast and mitigation of haze pollution.

A research team led by Prof. TIE Xuexi from the Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IEECAS) jointed with international team such as MPI, presented that the water vapour in the atmosphere played an important role of amplification in the severe haze pollution in eastern parts of China, by analyzing the 2012-2013 winter haze events in Beijing.

This was the first study that illuminates the water vapour molecules were suppressed by the sallow planetary boundary layer (PBL) just like the fine particles in the atmosphere through the combination of observation and model methods. Also, vertical diffusion of the water vapour molecules and fine particles was limited, which caused the rapid growth of them in the shallow planetary area. Meanwhile, the grown water vapour molecules were adsorbed on the surface of particles and formed a particulate water vapour surface layer, which caused a positive feedback cycle in the formation of heavy haze:1) The solar radiation reflection and scattering of particles were increased, and the suppression effect in the PBL was enhanced. 2) A reaction interface of secondary particles was provided, which reinforce the formation of particles.

“The process of amplification of the water vapour is a rapid cycle and feedback process, which plays a critical role in the explosive growth of haze pollution. And it is also an important reason for the frequent haze in autumn and winter of China, especially in North China Plain.” says TIE.

This study deepened the research on the reasons of regional haze pollution of China, and explained the quantitative effects of water vapour on regional haze pollution, also provideed a warning for the treatment of haze pollution in our country under high humidity background.

This work was published in Scientific Reports.

 

Fig.1 Feedback mechanism amplifies the formation of heavy haze events by aerosol uptaken water. (Image by Tie,et.al )

Contact: TIE Xuexi, Key Laboratory of Aerosol Chemistry and Physics, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi’an, 710061, China. Email: tiexx@ieecas.cn.

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