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Trends of Fog and Visibility in Taiwan: Climate Change or Air Quality Improvement?

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DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2018.04.0152
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Maylin Maurer 1, Otto Klemm 1, Hanna L. Lokys1, Neng-Huei Lin2

  • 1 Climatology Working Group, University of Münster, 48149 Münster, Germany
  • 2 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, National Central University, Taoyuan 32001, Taiwan

Highlights

Trends of visibility, haze, and fog were analyzed for a 32-years period in Taiwan.
Increase of visibility in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s at most sites in Taiwan.
Air quality improvement (PM reduction) and climate change support visibility increase.
The influence of long-term PM10 on visibility becomes weaker at high PM10 levels.


Abstract

This study provides insight into how the visibility in Taiwan has varied over time and what the main drivers of these visibility changes are. Over the period from 1985 to 2016, urban inland sites showed increases in visibility and decreases in the frequency of hazy and/or foggy days, whereas coastal urbanized and rural regions showed no clear trend or even an overall decrease in visibility. Over the most recent 5 to 10 years, a consistent increase in the visibility and decrease in the frequency of haze was found for most of the stations, except for the rural to suburban regions.

In general, visibility is driven by the relative humidity (rH) and the mass concentration of aerosol particles (PM). On the one hand, the combination of climate change and urbanization, resulting in a temperature rise (on average +0.035 °C y-1) and an associated overall decrease in rH (on average -0.125 % y-1), has had a positive influence on the long-term visibility in the cities of Taiwan. On the other hand, improvements in air quality supported the increase in visibility during the late 2000s and early 2010s. Our results show an almost exponential relationship between visibility and PM10. At lower PM10 conditions, the visibility is more sensitive to changes in the PM10. Thus, the influence of long-term PM10 on visibility becomes weaker at high PM10 levels. Consequently, over the long term, the PM10 more strongly influenced the visibility trends at the northern urban stations, which had lower PM10 concentrations to begin with. At the southern urban stations, the PM10 concentrations were generally higher and hence were less of a driver for variations in visibility. Thus, the visibility trends at these sites were more related to changes in rH until about 2011, at which time these regions reached a lower level of pollution.

Keywords

Visibility trends Fog Haze PM10 Relative humidity


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