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Association of Climate-related Total Atmospheric Energy Anomalies in the Tibetan Plateau with Haze in Eastern China

Category: Air Pollution Modeling

Volume: 20 | Issue: 4 | Pages: 810-819
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2020.02.0044

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To cite this article:
Ma, X., Xu, X., Cheng, X., Zhao, T., Dong, L., Zhao, Y. and Sun, X. (2020). Association of Climate-related Total Atmospheric Energy Anomalies in the Tibetan Plateau with Haze in Eastern China. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 20: 810-819. doi: 10.4209/aaqr.2020.02.0044.

Xiaodan Ma1, Xiangde Xu2, Xinghong Cheng 2, Tianliang Zhao 1, Lili Dong3, Yang Zhao2,4, Xiaoyun Sun1

  • 1 Collaborative Innovation Center on Forecast and Evaluation of Meteorological Disasters, Key Laboratory for Aerosol-Cloud-Precipitation of China Meteorological Administration, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing 210044, China
  • 2 Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Beijing 100081, China
  • 3 National Climate Center, Beijing 100081, China
  • 4 Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada


  • Total atmospheric energy is proposed as a new metric for air-quality study.
  • Thermal anomalies on the Tibetan Plateau are related to Chinese winter haze events.
  • A significantly positive correlation was found for haze events in northern China.
  • A negative association was found for haze events in southern China.


As climate warming is widespread over the world, the Tibetan Plateau is particularly sensitive to climate warming impacts owing to its high elevations and complex topography, receiving worldwide attention for its significant feedbacks through affecting the atmosphere circulation, and thus the Asia climate system even to global. In this study, the new metric “total atmospheric energy”, is considered to investigate the association of thermal anomalies on the Tibetan Plateau with haze events in China. The total atmospheric energy (TPE) of the Tibetan Plateau, including sensible heat energy, potential energy, kinetic energy, and latent heat energy, was calculated using US National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) meteorological reanalysis data from 1980 to 2016 to characterize the atmospheric thermal forcing of the large topography of the Tibetan Plateau. Results show that TPE has displayed periods of increase levels in recent decades, and inter-annual variations of TPE are significantly positively correlated with winter haze days over northern China but are negatively associated with haze events in southern China. Further diagnostic analysis and simulated results using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF)-Chem model indicate that the anomalous increase of TPE leads to enhanced thermal stability of the lower atmosphere, a weakened East Asian winter monsoonal wind in northern China, and increased near-surface wind speed in southern China, which are conductive to positive PM2.5 anomalies in northern China and negative PM2.5 anomalies in southern China. This implies that meteorological changes induced by TPE anomalies may play an important role in wintertime haze pollution over different regions of eastern China. Understanding the climate-related TPE modulating the favourable meteorological conditions for winter haze pollution over Eastern China could contribute to long-term planning for air pollution control.


Tibetan Plateau Total atmospheric energy Haze Thermal forcing

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