Science China Earth Sciences

, Volume 61, Issue 7, pp 973–979 | Cite as

Air pumping for alleviation of heavy smog in Beijing

  • Yaping ShaoEmail author
  • Sven Ulbrich
  • Dehui Chen
Research Paper


Beijing often suffers under heavy smog. During such events which occur mostly in autumn and winter, people are desperate for fresh air. The formation of heavy smog is due to foremost human induced air pollution, but geographic and meteorological conditions, especially below a surface inversion, play an important role. We propose to destroy the inversion by pumping air from above the inversion layer to the surface layer to alleviate the severity of the smog. While long-term air quality improvement depends on the reduction of air pollution emission, air pumping may provide relief in the interim for the Beijing citizens. We estimate that an air pumping at a rate 2×107 m3 s–1 can lead to significantly improved air quality in Beijing, due to (1) direct clean air input; (2) increased instability and vertical mixing and (3) a positive radiation-mixing feedback. The pumping requires an energy input of 10 GW, comparable with the energy consumption in Beijing for air conditioning in summer. We propose to use wind energy from Inner Mongolia for the pumping, which has currently an installed wind energy capacity of 70 GW.


Beijing air quality Air pumping Numerical modelling Inversion 


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We wish to thank Xia Qian, University of Cologne, for preparing Figures 3a and 4 and Zong Zhiping, National Meteorological Center of CMA, for providing Figure 2a. We are also grateful to the reviewers for their comments which led to improvements of the manuscript. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 91537211).


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Geophysics and Meteorology, Department of GeosciencesUniversity of CologneCologneGermany
  2. 2.China Meteorological AdministrationBeijingChina

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