Appreciable role of stratospheric polar vortex in the abnormal diffusion of air pollutant in North China in 2015/2016 winter and implications for prediction

Wei Huang, Yueyue Yu*, Zhicong Yin, Haishan Chen, Meng Gao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The longer predictability limit and downward impact on the extratropical circulations and weather have made the winter Stratospheric Polar Vortex (SPV) variability a new source for sub-seasonal prediction in extratropical wintertime. Using the PM2.5 observation data and high-resolution ERA5 reanalysis data during 2014–2019, we investigate the characteristics of SPV and its linkage to the tropospheric meteorological condition during the abnormal PM2.5 diffusion event in North China in 2015/2016 winter. Results show that this diffusion event includes two stages: rapid diffusion stage (December 22–28, 2015) and persistent diffusion stage (January 1–23, 2016). The tropospheric meteorological condition in both stages was characterized by enhanced northerlies over North China, which dominantly led to the anomalous PM2.5 concentration drop. An active coupling process between SPV and surface Arctic Oscillation (AO) is found at the persistent diffusion stage, rather than at the rapid diffusion stage. The amplified tropospheric waves associated with the negative AO in the end of December propagated upward and helped split the SPV into two sub-vortices respectively over North Atlantic and North Asia in the beginning of January; the SPV weakening signal then propagated downward, helping intensify the negative AO since January 11, which further strengthened the northerly as well as PM2.5 diffusion over the entire East Asia. This case study demonstrates that the stratosphere-troposphere coupling effectively favors and extend the duration of PM2.5 diffusion, and the weakening of SPV provides a long lead information (1–2 weeks) to the meteorological diffusion condition, thus showing appreciable potential for extending the predictability limit of meteorological diffusion condition in North China.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118549
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Meteorological diffusion condition for air pollutants
  • North China
  • Stratosphere-troposphere interaction
  • Stratospheric polar vortex


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