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Sulphur dioxide emissons
from anthropogenic activities
in China

SO2 over China; average over 2004-2008
Average SO2 distribution over China during 2004-2008.
Extract from the Wikipedia:
One of the serious negative consequences of the People's Republic of China's rapid industrial development has been increased pollution and degradation of natural resources. Much solid waste is not properly disposed of. Water pollution is a source of health problems across the country and air pollution causes up to 750,000 premature deaths each year. China's polluted environment is largely a result of the country's rapid development and consequently a large increase in primary energy consumption, which is primarily provided by coal power plants. China has pursued a development model which prioritizes exports-led growth (similar to many other East Asian countries).
Sulphur dioxide (SO2) is one of the main constituents of air pollution over China, along with nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon dioxide (CO2), etc.

SO2 related to anthropogenic activities will usually remain close to the ground, or more precisely: in the boundary layer (the lowest few kilometre). This means that this SO2 can be measured from satellite only in cloud-free situations, and for that reason the daily maps of SO2 over China show large variations.

It is therefore worthwhile to consider monthly averages. But rather than looking at the SO2 distribution assuming the peak is at an altitude of 14 km or 6 km (respectively with the option AMF High and AMF Middle as is done for the plots shown in the archive), it is better to assume that the SO2 is in the lowest 2 km above ground level (option AMF Low), which means that the SO2 is found only in the planetary boundary layer - a fair assumption for SO2 from anthropogenic activities. In addition, the colour scale is adapted to better show the SO2 distribution. See the next two plots which show montly SO2 vertical column for July 2010 with AMF Middle and AMF Low options (with respectively assumed peaks at 6 km and 2 km).

SO2 July 2010 over China, AMF Middle   SO2 July 2010 over China, AMF Low

This page shows SO2 averages over different periods in time based on SCIAMACHY data from the data archive, gridded on a 0.25 by 0.25 degree grid. A discussion, with some validation and trend analysis, of the data can be found in the following paper:

Zhang, X., Van Geffen, J., Zhang, P., Liao, H., Lou, S. and Van Roozendael, M.: 2009,
"Satellite observations of tropospheric SO2 over China during 2004-2009,"
in preparation.


Yearly averages (AMF Low)

SO2 over China; year 2004
SO2 over China; year 2005
SO2 over China; year 2006
SO2 over China; year 2007
SO2 over China; year 2008

Long-term averages ("climatologies")

SO2 over China; years 2004-2008
all months
SO2 over China; Dec-Jan-Feb 2004-2008
SO2 over China; Mar-Apr-May 2004-2008
SO2 over China; Jun-Jul-Aug 2004-2008
SO2 over China; Sep-Oct-Nov 2004-2008

Monthly averages

SO2 over China; Jan. 2005 Sequence of images of monthly averaged SO2 for the period January 2005 up to October 2009 the variation in time of the SO2 distribution (the images are more noisy than averages over longer periods):
  > Animated GIF -- 676x480 pixels, 7.7Mb
  > Animated GIF -- 344x244 pixels, 2.8Mb

In Dec. 2006 and in Nov. 2008 some SO2 is visible to the lower left: this SO2 is due to volcano eruptions in Africa, which was subsequently transported over a large distance.
During July-August 2005, in particular in June, a large SO2 patch is visible to the lower right: this is due to volcanic activity at the Mariana Islands, to the south-east of the area shown in the maps.

The following links to zip-files contain
the large images for the available months
and - if available -
the yearly average.

2004 zip-ed 2005 zip-ed 2006 zip-ed 2007 zip-ed 2008 zip-ed 2009 zip-ed

You can contact us if you want to see the last images of China (SCIAMACHY and GOME-2).
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