Impact of Air Pollution on the Climate and Its Changes in China

Monday, February 15, 2016: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM
Wilson B (Marriott Wardman Park)
Zhanqing Li, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, MD
Impact of Air Pollution on the Climate and Its Changes in China

Zhanqing Li

Dept of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Maryland, USA

Air pollution is one of the most serious problems facing over a billion of people in China and the surrounding regions, while all mankind on the planet has confronted climate changes.  The two problems are raveled together in such a complex way that renders some special problems in tackling with them. Following over a decade of intensive collaborative studies by scientists in both US and China, it is clear that the two problems are coupled. I will highlight some major findings concerning air pollution and climate changes in China. Below are a few key points I’d like to make:

  1. Air pollution in China has been worsened in general since 1960s, with the most rapid deterioration taking place from 1960-1990s, and the pace of change is getting slower in the recent decade.
  2. Air pollution helps offset the warming trend in China, especially in eastern China where there was a cooling period from 1960s-1990s.  As China is making all efforts to clean up the air, the warming trend may be accelerated to reveal the true stronger effect of global warming.  More extreme weather, including exceptionally hot days are anticipated.  
  3. Air pollution is likely to make rainfall more inhomogeneous and more extreme by suppressing light rains and enhance heavy rains, lowering the water usage and causing more droughts and floods, as what has happened in China.
  4. Air pollution is likely to have contributed to the long-term trend of increasing and decreasing thunderstorm activities in southern and central China, respectively, due to different types of pollutants, and also delay their occurrence to late day.
  5. The worsening of pollution in the recent decade is not only caused by increasing emissions but also by the general weakening trend of Asian monsoon circulation whose trend itself is linked with increasing air pollution due to a feedback. 

Zhanqing Li: Professor at Dept of Atmos. & Oceanic Sci and ESSIC at University of Maryland. He has engaged in wide range of studies concerning climate change, atmospheric physics, terrestrial and atmospheric environment. He developed a suite of remote sensing algorithms products and systems (earth radiation budget, aerosol and cloud parameters, precipitation, fire and emissions, and terrestrial parameters etc.). He has published 220 peer-reviewed articles, received over 10 awards and honors from US, Canada and Germany including AAAS & AGU fellows and the AGU’s Yoram J. Kaufman Award, the Humboldt Research Award of Germany, and the Head of Public Service Award and the Alouette Medal of Canada, etc.  He has served as an editor of J. Geophy. Res., Adv. in Meteorology, etc.