Hua Wang1,2, Zhaobin Sun 1, Hongyu Li 3, Yang Gao3, Jin Wu2, Tiantao Cheng4

Institute of Urban Meteorology, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing 100089, China
Environment Meteorology Forecast Center of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, Beijing 100089, China
Weather Modification Center, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing 100081, China
Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China

Received: April 11, 2018
Revised: July 16, 2018
Accepted: August 26, 2018
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Cite this article:
Wang, H., Sun, Z., Li, H., Gao, Y., Wu, J. and Cheng, T. (2018). Vertical-distribution Characteristics of Atmospheric Aerosols under Different Thermodynamic Conditions in Beijing. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 18: 2775-2787.


  • Aerosol vertical distributions differ under different temperature inversion conditions.
  • Aerosol particle size more uniform vertically in the daytime than morning.
  • Inversion layer has stronger stability for the coupled subsidence and advection.
  • Pollution thicken following with the southerly airflow strengthening.


Understanding the vertical distribution of atmospheric aerosols is crucial to elucidating their spatial distribution and the formation of extreme air pollution events. Based on multisource data from specialized aircraft, lidar, and conventional surface observations with meteorological reanalysis, the vertical distribution of atmospheric aerosols and related changes during two air pollution cases in Beijing in the spring of 2012 were analyzed and compared. The results indicated that temperature inversion occurred in the atmospheric boundary layer in both cases. Aerosols accumulated considerably within the inversion layer, and the vertical distribution of the aerosol concentration was consistent with the relative humidity. However, the vertical distributions of the pollution layer thickness, aerosol concentration, and particle size differed significantly under different temperature-inversion conditions, primarily because of differences in the air pollution-diffusing abilities, which depended on vertical changes in the atmospheric thermodynamic structure. When radiation inversion occurred, the diurnal variation in the vertical distributions of aerosol and relative humidity was notable: The air pollution layer was thin in the morning, but the aerosol and particle size became more vertically uniform during the day, and the aerosol concentration and relative humidity near the surface decreased sharply because of enhanced pollutant vertical diffusion, which was influenced by newly developed unstable thermodynamic stratification. During the temperature inversion resulting from coupled subsidence and advection, the inversion layer was higher and more stable, allowing it to inhibit the vertical diffusion of pollutants, which subsequently caused long-lasting and thick pollution with a higher aerosol concentration and relative humidity at lower levels alongside a relatively unchanging vertical distribution of particle sizes. Moreover, in the daytime, as the southerly airflow strengthened below the inversion layer and the mixed-layer height increased, the pollution and wet layers thickened, and the aerosol concentration increased rapidly because of pollutant transport to the Beijing region.

Keywords: Aerosol; Aircraft detection; Temperature inversion; Vertical distribution.


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