Wind-blown dust and its impacts on particulate matter pollution in northern China: current and future scenario
Environmental Research Letters
Northern China experienced two intense dust storms in March 2021, leading to reduced visibility and excessive particulate pollution. Understanding the cause of such extreme phenomena is important for further prevention. This study successfully reproduced the extreme dust storms using the Community Multiscale Air Quality model with refined bulk density of different soil types and improved spatial resolution. The wind-blown PM 2.5 and PM 10 are estimated to be around 15 and 120 µg m −3 in dust
... rce areas (equal 9.6% and 31.0% in average of China), resulting in 1.1 and 2.0 times increases in PM 2.5 and PM 10 concentrations in populated regions of the Middle Yellow River Basin and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area. The critical threshold friction velocity is the key parameter to judge whether wind-blown dust occurs. Dust flux is sensitive to the bulk soil density (increased by 4.2% and 12.6% for PM 2.5 and PM 10 after refined soil bulk density) and resolution (increased by 13.5% and 3.5% for PM 2.5 and PM 10 from 27 km to 9 km). Such results demonstrated the strong correlation between wind speed, frequency, and intensity of dust phenomena from 2013 to 2021. The wind speed can be further enhanced in dust source areas even in the context of a decline in the national average, leading to more frequent and persistent dust storms in March 2050. Only relying on coordinated emission reductions to mitigate climate change, wind-blown dust in northern China still poses considerable potential risks to air quality. Urgent actions should also be taken to improve land-use and land-cover to reduce the area of dust sources.