Distinct Impacts of ENSO on Haze Pollution in the Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei Region between Early and Late Winters

Wei Zhao aNational Meteorological Center, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, China

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Shangfeng Chen bCenter for Monsoon System Research, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
cState Key Laboratory of Hydrology–Water Resources and Hydraulic Engineering, Hohai University, Nanjing, China

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Hengde Zhang aNational Meteorological Center, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, China

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Jikang Wang aNational Meteorological Center, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, China

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Wen Chen bCenter for Monsoon System Research, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

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Renguang Wu dSchool of Earth Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China

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Wanqiu Xing cState Key Laboratory of Hydrology–Water Resources and Hydraulic Engineering, Hohai University, Nanjing, China

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Zhibiao Wang bCenter for Monsoon System Research, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

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Peng Hu bCenter for Monsoon System Research, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

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Jinling Piao bCenter for Monsoon System Research, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

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Tianjiao Ma bCenter for Monsoon System Research, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

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Abstract

The Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei (BTH) region has encountered increasingly severe and frequent haze pollution during recent decades. This study reveals that El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has distinctive impacts on interannual variations of haze pollution over BTH in early and late winters. The impact of ENSO on the haze pollution over the BTH is strong in early winter, but weak in late winter. In early winter, ENSO-related sea surface temperature anomalies generate double-cell Walker circulation anomalies, with upward motion anomalies over the tropical central-eastern Pacific and tropical Indian Ocean, and downward motion anomalies over the tropical western Pacific. The ascending motion and enhanced atmospheric heating anomalies over the tropical Indian Ocean trigger atmospheric teleconnection propagating from the north Indian Ocean to East Asia, and result in the generation of an anticyclonic anomaly over Northeast Asia. The associated southerly anomalies to the west side lead to more serious haze pollution via reducing surface wind speed and increasing low-level humidity and the thermal inversion. The strong contribution of the Indian Ocean heating anomalies to the formation of the anticyclonic anomaly over Northeast Asia in early winter can be confirmed by atmospheric model numerical experiments. In late winter, vertical motion and precipitation anomalies are weak over the tropical Indian Ocean related to ENSO. As such, ENSO cannot induce a clear anticyclonic anomaly over Northeast Asia via atmospheric teleconnection, and thus has a weak impact on the haze pollution over BTH. Further analysis shows that stronger ENSO-induced atmospheric heating anomalies over the tropical Indian Ocean in early winter are partially due to higher mean SST and precipitation there.

Significance Statement

There exist large discrepancies regarding the contribution of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events to the wintertime haze pollution over North China. Several studies have indicated that ENSO has a weak impact on the haze pollution over North China. However, some studies have argued that ENSO events can exert impacts on the occurrence of haze pollution over North China. In this study, we present evidence to demonstrate that ENSO has distinctive impacts on interannual variations of the haze pollution over the Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei (BTH) region in North China in early and late winters. Specifically, ENSO has a strong impact on the haze pollution over BTH in early winter, whereas the impact of ENSO on the haze pollution over BTH is fairly weak in late winter. Results of this study could reconcile the discrepancy of previous studies about the impact of ENSO on the haze pollution over North China.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding authors: Shangfeng Chen, chenshangfeng@mail.iap.ac.cn; Hengde Zhang, zhanghengde1977@163.com

Abstract

The Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei (BTH) region has encountered increasingly severe and frequent haze pollution during recent decades. This study reveals that El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has distinctive impacts on interannual variations of haze pollution over BTH in early and late winters. The impact of ENSO on the haze pollution over the BTH is strong in early winter, but weak in late winter. In early winter, ENSO-related sea surface temperature anomalies generate double-cell Walker circulation anomalies, with upward motion anomalies over the tropical central-eastern Pacific and tropical Indian Ocean, and downward motion anomalies over the tropical western Pacific. The ascending motion and enhanced atmospheric heating anomalies over the tropical Indian Ocean trigger atmospheric teleconnection propagating from the north Indian Ocean to East Asia, and result in the generation of an anticyclonic anomaly over Northeast Asia. The associated southerly anomalies to the west side lead to more serious haze pollution via reducing surface wind speed and increasing low-level humidity and the thermal inversion. The strong contribution of the Indian Ocean heating anomalies to the formation of the anticyclonic anomaly over Northeast Asia in early winter can be confirmed by atmospheric model numerical experiments. In late winter, vertical motion and precipitation anomalies are weak over the tropical Indian Ocean related to ENSO. As such, ENSO cannot induce a clear anticyclonic anomaly over Northeast Asia via atmospheric teleconnection, and thus has a weak impact on the haze pollution over BTH. Further analysis shows that stronger ENSO-induced atmospheric heating anomalies over the tropical Indian Ocean in early winter are partially due to higher mean SST and precipitation there.

Significance Statement

There exist large discrepancies regarding the contribution of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events to the wintertime haze pollution over North China. Several studies have indicated that ENSO has a weak impact on the haze pollution over North China. However, some studies have argued that ENSO events can exert impacts on the occurrence of haze pollution over North China. In this study, we present evidence to demonstrate that ENSO has distinctive impacts on interannual variations of the haze pollution over the Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei (BTH) region in North China in early and late winters. Specifically, ENSO has a strong impact on the haze pollution over BTH in early winter, whereas the impact of ENSO on the haze pollution over BTH is fairly weak in late winter. Results of this study could reconcile the discrepancy of previous studies about the impact of ENSO on the haze pollution over North China.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding authors: Shangfeng Chen, chenshangfeng@mail.iap.ac.cn; Hengde Zhang, zhanghengde1977@163.com
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