Aircraft Observations of Dust and Pollutants over NE China: Insight into the Meteorological Mechanisms of Long-Range Transport


Substantial concentrations of trace gases and aerosols are lofted and carried from Asia over the Pacific producing an inter-hemispheric impact on atmospheric chemistry and climate. The meteorological mechanism leading to this large-scale transport of dust and pollutants remains a major uncertainty in quantifying the global effects of emissions from the developing world. Models and downwind measurements have identified isentropic advection associated with wave cyclones (warm conveyor belt circulation) as an important mechanism. We present data from a case study conducted over Shenyang in NE China as part of EAST-AIRE in April 2005 in which upstream convection, rather than WCB lofting appears to dominate. Observations from instrumented aircraft flights, back trajectories, and satellite images of clouds (GOES) and aerosols (MODIS) are analyzed. In this heavily industrialized and populated region, the warm-sector PBL air ahead of a cold front was highly polluted. In the free troposphere, between ~1000 and 4000 m altitude, concentrations of trace gases and aerosols were lower, but well above background; we measured ~70 ppb O3, ~300 ppb CO, ~2 ppb SO2, and ~ 8x10-5 m-1 aerosol scattering. These observations show that dry (non-precipitating) convection can be an important mechanism for converting local air pollution problems into regional or global atmospheric chemistry problems. Climatological data indicate that spring (MAM) precipitation over NE China is low, about 90 mm compared to 290 mm over the NE US. Cloud cover, however, is similar with cumulus clouds reported about 7% of the time over NE China and about 9% of the time over the NE US suggesting that lofting in dry convective events may be common over NE Asia. Evaluation of models’ convective schemes and further observations near the source regions are called for.