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Effect of cold wave on winter visibility over eastern China

Qu, W., J. Wang, X. Zhang, Z. Yang, and S. Gao (2015), Effect of cold wave on winter visibility over eastern China, J. Geophys. Res., 120, 2394-2406, doi:10.1002/2014JD021958.

Considerable concern has been raised on the severe wintertime haze episodes over eastern China (ECN) where visibility (Vis) decline in winter is identified from 1973 to 2012 (0.68 km per 10 years or 26% in 40 years). Based upon the analysis of daily Vis and weather records, cold wave (CW) originating from high latitudes is found to increase Vis by 2.7 km on average because of its relatively stronger wind and drier, cleaner air mass compared with the typical, stable midlatitude air over ECN in winter. However, the lessening frequency of CW occurrence and cold air activity in recent years and the accompanied decrease of surface wind speed (0.15 m/s per 10 years or 18% in the 40 years) may have amplified the effect of increased anthropogenic emissions on Vis and consequently resulted in more substantial Vis decline. A comparison of Vis trends on the “normal wind” days and on all days in winter implies that the emission increase has contributed to about 79% of the declining Vis trend, while the meteorology change contributed 21%. Furthermore, the diurnal cycle of the boundary layer height is found to have weakened or in some cases disappeared in the winters with less CW, which probably contributed to the long-lasting characteristic of the wintertime low Vis events in this region. Hence, the effect of climate change, such as the decrease of CW occurrence, should be accounted as part of the interpretation for the steady decrease of winter Vis over ECN in the past four decades.

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Atmospheric Composition Modeling and Analysis Program (ACMAP)
Tropospheric Composition Program (TCP)