Madina Tursumbayeva1, Aiymgul Kerimray This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.2, Ferhat Karaca3,4, Didin Agustian Permadi5 

1 Department of Meteorology and Hydrology, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Almaty, Kazakhstan
2 Center of Physical Chemical Methods of Research and Analysis, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Almaty, Kazakhstan
3 School of Engineering and Digital Science, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Nazarbayev University, Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan
4 The Environment and Resource Efficiency Cluster, Nazarbayev University, Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan
5 National Institute of Technology (Itenas), Bandung, Indonesia

Received: December 5, 2021
Revised: May 4, 2022
Accepted: June 1, 2022

 Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

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Tursumbayeva, M., Kerimray, A., Karaca, F., Permadi, D.A. (2022). Planetary Boundary Layer and its Relationship with PM2.5 Concentrations in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Aerosol Air Qual. Res.


  • PM2.5 concentrations exceeded WHO daily limits in 93% of days from October to March.
  • Daily averaged PM2.5 concentrations negatively correlated with PBLH.
  • PBLH, wind speed, and ventilation coefficient were the lowest in wintertime.


Air pollution is a severe problem in Almaty (Kazakhstan), especially during the cold half of the year (October-March). Almaty is one of the most polluted cities in Kazakhstan and Central Asia, with average winter PM2.5 (particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter ≤ 2.5 µm) concentrations higher than 100 μg m-3. High pollution in the wintertime in Almaty could be caused by emissions from coal combustion for power and heat generation (at power plants and small-scale heating), which could also be worsened by poor dispersion of air pollutants due to certain atmospheric conditions. Based on one-year radiosonde data, the characteristics of the planetary boundary layer height (PBLH) and its effect on ground-level PM2.5 concentrations in Almaty were analyzed in this study using the bulk Richardson number (Ri) and potential temperature increase (PT) methods. During an annual cycle, the concentrations of PM2.5 were highest in the winter months when the daily concentrations were above 100 μg m-3 for 39 days during this period. The results show a clear negative relationship between the daily average PM2.5 concentrations and PBLH at 12.00 UTС. For instance, high PM2.5 concentrations in winter months (94.0 μg m-3) corresponded to a lower PBLH (393 m), and low PM2.5 concentrations in summer months (9.9 μg m-3) corresponded to a higher PBLH (1970 m). During the cold half of the year, the top 20% of PM2.5 concentrations were associated with a lower PBLH and calm wind conditions (lower average wind speeds within the PBL and a lower ventilation coefficient). The results show that PBLH variations during the year have a significant effect on PM2.5 concentrations; however, further analysis is needed with a more substantial amount of observational data to understand this interaction further and to investigate the role of synoptic processes that lead to a shallow PBLH.

Keywords: Air quality, Pollution, Planetary boundary layer height, PM2.5, Kazakhstan

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