Itahashi, S; Uno, I; Yumimoto, K; Irie, H; Osada, K; Ogata, K; Fukushima, H; Wang, Z; Ohara, T (2012). Interannual variation in the fine-mode MODIS aerosol optical depth and its relationship to the changes in sulfur dioxide emissions in China between 2000 and 2010. ATMOSPHERIC CHEMISTRY AND PHYSICS, 12(5), 2631-2640.
Anthropogenic SO2 emissions increased alongside economic development in China at a rate of 12.7% yr(-1) from 2000 to 2005. However, under new Chinese government policy, SO2 emissions declined by 3.9% yr(-1) between 2005 and 2009. Between 2000 and 2010, we found that the variability in the fine-mode (submicron) aerosol optical depth (AOD) over the oceans adjacent to East Asia increased by 3-8% yr(-1) to a peak around 2005-2006 and subsequently decreased by 2-7% yr(-1), based on observations by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board NASA's Terra satellite and simulations by a chemical transport model. This trend is consistent with ground-based observations of aerosol particles at a mountainous background observation site in central Japan. These fluctuations in SO2 emission intensity and fine-mode AOD are thought to reflect the widespread installation of fuel-gas desulfurization (FGD) devices in power plants in China, because aerosol sulfate is a major determinant of the fine-mode AOD in East Asia. Using a chemical transport model, we confirmed that the contribution of particulate sulfate to the fine-mode AOD is more than 70% of the annual mean and that the abovementioned fluctuation in fine-mode AOD is caused mainly by changes in SO2 emission rather than by other factors such as varying meteorological conditions in East Asia. A strong correlation was also found between satellite-retrieved SO2 vertical column density and bottom-up SO2 emissions, both of which were also consistent with observed fine-mode AOD trends. We propose a simplified approach for evaluating changes in SO2 emissions in China, combining the use of modeled sensitivity coefficients that describe the variation of fine-mode AOD with changes in SO2 emissions and satellite retrieval. Satellite measurements of fine-mode AOD above the Sea of Japan marked a 4.1% yr(-1) decline between 2007 and 2010, which corresponded to the 9% yr(-1) decline in SO2 emissions from China during the same period.