Springtime warming and biomass burning causing ozone episodes in South and Southwest China

  • Y. C. Lee
  • K. L. ChanEmail author
  • M. O. Wenig


A detailed analysis of springtime ozone outbreaks in South/Southwest China is presented in this paper, providing an insight into a regional photochemical and climate problem. A major ozone episode in 2013 was the first ever in April and the worst in Hong Kong up to 2018, measuring a peak ozone concentration of 293 μg m−3. This multi-day, ozone pollution was evidenced by similar conditions in the Pearl River Delta (PRD), and an even more severe episode in Kunming (Yunnan) in Southwest China. Concurrently, widespread air temperature composite anomalies of up to about + 4°K were observed in the region, particularly during 6Z (14:00 local time). The global annual geopotential height anomaly implied increased atmospheric stability and inhibited dispersion—consistent with global warming impacts for the region. Backward trajectories, satellite observations, and transport model simulations characterized the biomass burning sources. Results indicated that activities in Indochina, South and Southwest China, and Africa were the main sources in South China while those in Burma dominated Southwest China. The close succession of outbreaks from west to east (Kunming, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong) suggests an eastward transport of ozone and precursors.


Springtime ozone Biomass burning Temperature anomaly Geopotential height anomaly South China Southwest China 



We thank the Hong Kong Observatory and the Environmental Protection Department of Hong Kong for the provision of meteorological and air quality data, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology for the vertical sounding data. The authors would also like to thank the NASA Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center (GES DISC), the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) Air Resources Laboratory (ARL) for the provision of data and tools used in this publication.

Funding information

The work described in this paper was financially supported by the Marie Curie Initial Training Network of the European Seventh Framework Programme (Grant No. 607905).

Supplementary material

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Figure S1

Mean Fire Radiative Power April 2013 (PNG 2441 kb)

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High Resolution Image (TIFF 913 kb)
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Figure S2

Aerosol Small Mode Fraction 10–16 April 2013 (PNG 2700 kb)

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High Resolution Image (TIFF 817 kb)
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Figure S3

Pollutant concentrations of NOx, O3, PM10, PM2.5 and CO from 14 to 16 April 2013 (PNG 2010 kb)

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High Resolution Image (TIFF 8594 kb)
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Figure S4

(a)Surface ozone versus air temperature 12–17 April 2013 (b)Total ozone vs temperature 1–30 April 2003 (c)Total ozone vs temperature 1–30 April 2011 (PNG 9067 kb)

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High Resolution Image (TIFF 1481 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Meteorological InstituteLudwig-Maximilians-Universität MünchenMunichGermany

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