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Cutting Air Pollution Got Boost From Weather: Scientists Compared Emission Controls Versus Weather During Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

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Pollution controls in Beijing and the adjacent provinces were only part of the air quality improvement story during the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Scientists from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Chinese Academy of Sciences found that rain at the beginning and wind during the games were at least as important as emission controls in reducing pollution particles. Their research suggests that to improve the air quality over major cities in China, emission control planning should focus on the regional scale instead of the local scale.


WRF-Chem, a coupled meteorological-chemistry model, combined with observations for their research on emissions reduction from July 1-August 30, covering before and during the 16-day Olympic Games. Based on the budget analysis of aerosol pollutants, the team found that emission sources dropped by half in the week just before and during the Olympics. And while some pollution got washed out by rain or fell out of the sky, most of it got blown away by wind. Scientists considered pollution particles of 2.5 microns.


This research was supported by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC), the National Natural Science Foundation of China, and the Ministry of Environmental Protection of China. The work was performed by Ms. Yi Gao, formerly a visiting student of PNNL; Drs. Xiaohong Liu and Chun Zhao of PNNL; and Dr. M. Zhang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

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