Severe particulate pollution days in China during 2013–2018
and the associated typical weather patterns
in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and the Yangtze River Delta regions
This study examined the spatial and temporal variations of severe particulate pollution days (SPPDs) in China by using observed PM2.5 concentrations during April 2013 to February 2018 from the Ministry of Environmental Protection of China. SPPDs were defined as those with observed daily mean PM2.5 concentrations larger than 150 μg m−3. Observations showed that northern China had the highest number of SPPDs during the studied period. Since 2015, the number of SPPDs in northwestern China is comparable to or even higher than that observed in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (BTH). The highest numbers of SPPDs observed within BTH and the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) were 122 (33), 95 (17), 57 (15), 78 (18), and 31 (25) days in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, respectively, indicating a general decreasing trend as a result of emission reduction measures. SPPDs occurred mainly from November to February in BTH and in December and January in the YRD. The major circulation patterns associated with large-scale SPPDs were analyzed by using principal component analysis. Five typical synoptic weather patterns were identified for BTH. The most dominant weather type (a cold high centered over the Xinjiang and Mongolian regions) for BTH was also responsible for most of the SPPDs in the YRD. These results have important implications for emission control strategies during SPPDs. Emission control measures can be applied once the dominant circulation patterns have been predicted.