Coarse particulate matter air quality in East Asia: implications for fine particulate nitrate

Zhai, S., Jacob, D.J., Pendergrass, D.C., Colombi, N.K., Shah, V., Yang, L.H., Zhang, Q., Wang, S., et al. (2023). Coarse particulate matter air quality in East Asia: implications for fine particulate nitrate. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 23 (7) 4271-4281. 10.5194/acp-23-4271-2023.

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Air quality network data in China and South Korea show very high year-round mass concentrations of coarse particulate matter (PM), as inferred by the difference between PM10 and PM2.5. Coarse PM concentrations in 2015 averaged 52μgm-3 in the North China Plain (NCP) and 23μgm-3 in the Seoul Metropolitan Area (SMA), contributing nearly half of PM10. Strong daily correlations between coarse PM and carbon monoxide imply a dominant source from anthropogenic fugitive dust. Coarse PM concentrations in the NCP and the SMA decreased by 21% from 2015 to 2019 and further dropped abruptly in 2020 due to COVID-19 reductions in construction and vehicle traffic. Anthropogenic coarse PM is generally not included in air quality models but scavenges nitric acid to suppress the formation of fine particulate nitrate, a major contributor to PM2.5 pollution. GEOS-Chem model simulation of surface and aircraft observations from the Korea-United States Air Quality (KORUS-AQ) campaign over the SMA in May-June 2016 shows that consideration of anthropogenic coarse PM largely resolves the previous model overestimate of fine particulate nitrate. The effect is smaller in the NCP which has a larger excess of ammonia. Model sensitivity simulations for 2015-2019 show that decreasing anthropogenic coarse PM directly increases PM2.5 nitrate in summer, offsetting 80% the effect of nitrogen oxide and ammonia emission controls, while in winter the presence of coarse PM increases the sensitivity of PM2.5 nitrate to ammonia and sulfur dioxide emissions. Decreasing coarse PM helps to explain the lack of decrease in wintertime PM2.5 nitrate observed in the NCP and the SMA over the 2015-2021 period despite decreases in nitrogen oxide and ammonia emissions. Continuing decrease of fugitive dust pollution means that more stringent nitrogen oxide and ammonia emission controls will be required to successfully decrease PM2.5 nitrate.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE)
Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE) > Pollution Management (PM)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 09 May 2023 08:52
Last Modified: 09 May 2023 08:52

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