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Sci Total Environ. 2015 Jan 1;502:578-84. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.09.079. Epub 2014 Oct 7.

Effects of meteorology and secondary particle formation on visibility during heavy haze events in Beijing, China.

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Beijing Weather Modification Office, Beijing, China.
SKLLQG and Key Laboratory of Aerosol Chemistry and Physics, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xian China; National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA. Electronic address:


The causes of haze formation in Beijing, China were analyzed based on a comprehensive measurement, including PBL (planetary boundary layer), aerosol composition and concentrations, and several important meteorological parameters such as visibility, RH (relative humidity), and wind speed/direction. The measurement was conducted in an urban location from Nov. 16, 2012 to Jan. 15, 2013. During the period, the visibility varied from >20 km to less than a kilometer, with a minimum visibility of 667 m, causing 16 haze occurrences. During the haze occurrences, the wind speeds were less than 1m/s, and the concentrations of PM2.5 (particle matter with radius less than 2.5 μm) were often exceeded 200 μg/m(3). The correlation between PM2.5 concentration and visibility under different RH values shows that visibility was exponentially decreased with the increase of PM2.5 concentrations when RH was less than 80%. However, when RH was higher than 80%, the relationship was no longer to follow the exponentially decreasing trend, and the visibility maintained in very low values, even with low PM2.5 concentrations. Under this condition, the hygroscopic growth of particles played important roles, and a large amount of water vapor acted as particle matter (PM) for the reduction of visibility. The variations of meteorological parameters (RH, PBL heights, and WS (wind speed)), chemical species in gas-phase (CO, O3, SO2, and NOx), and gas-phase to particle-phase conversions under different visibility ranges were analyzed. The results show that from high visibility (>20 km) to low visibility (<2 km), the averaged PBL decreased from 1.24 km to 0.53 km; wind speeds reduced from 1m/s to 0.5m/s; and CO increased from 0.5 ppmv to 4.0 ppmv, suggesting that weaker transport/diffusion caused the haze occurrences. This study also found that the formation of SPM (secondary particle matter) was accelerated in the haze events. The conversions between SO2 and SO4 as well as NOx to NO3(-) increased, especially under high humidity conditions. When the averaged RH was 70%, the conversions between SO2 and SO4 accounted for about 20% concentration of PM2.5, indicating that formation of secondary particle matter had important contribution for the haze occurrences in Beijing.


Beijing Hazes; PBL; PM(2.5); Secondary particle formation; Visibility

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