Reduction in NOx Emission Trends over China: Regional and Seasonal Variations

Gu, D., Y. Wang, C. Smeltzer, and Z. Liu (2013), Reduction in NOx Emission Trends over China: Regional and Seasonal Variations, Environ. Sci. Technol., 47, 12912-12919, doi:10.1021/es401727e.

We analyzed satellite observations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) columns by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) over China from 2005 to 2010 in order to estimate the top-down anthropogenic nitrogen oxides (NOx) emission trends. Since NOx emissions were affected by the economic slowdown in 2009, we removed one year of abnormal data in the analysis. The estimated average emission trend is 4.01 ± 1.39% yr−1, which is slower than the trend of 5.8−10.8% yr−1 reported for previous years. We find large regional, seasonal, and urbanrural variations in emission trends. The average NOx emission trend of 3.47 ± 1.07% yr−1 in warm season (June−September) is less than the trend of 5.03 ± 1.92% yr−1 in cool season (October−May). The regional annual emission trends decrease from 4.76 ± 1.61% yr−1 in North China Plain to 3.11 ± 0.98% yr−1 in Yangtze River Delta and further down to −4.39 ± 1.81% yr−1 in Pearl River Delta. The annual emission trends of the four largest megacities, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen are −0.76 ± 0.29%, 0.69 ± 0.27%, −4.46 ± 1.22%, and −7.18 ± 2.88% yr−1, considerably lower than the regional averages or surrounding rural regions. These results appear to suggest that a number of factors, including emission control measures of thermal power plants, increased hydro-power usage, vehicle emission regulations, and closure or migration of high-emission industries, have significantly reduced or even reversed the increasing trend of NOx emissions in more economically developed megacities and southern coastal regions, but their effects are not as significant in other major cities or less economically developed regions.

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