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Atmospheric Pollution Research 8 (2017) 233e243

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Atmospheric Pollution Research


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Original Article

The empirical relationship between PM2.5 and AOD in Nanjing of the


Yangtze River Delta
Ping Shao a, b, c, Jinyuan Xin a, b, c, *, Junlin An b, Lingbin Kong c, Bingyun Wang a, b,
Junxiu Wang b, Yuesi Wang c, Dan Wu d
a
School of Atmospheric Sciences/Plateau Atmosphere and Environment Key Laboratory of Sichuan Province/Joint Laboratory of Climate and Environment
Change, Chengdu University of Information Technology, Chengdu 610225, China
b
Key Laboratory for Aerosol-Cloud-Precipitation of China Meteorological Administration/Collaborative Innovation Center on Forecast and Evaluation of
Meteorological Disasters, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing 210044, China
c
State Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Boundary Layer Physics and Atmospheric Chemistry, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences,
Beijing 100029, China
d
School of Environmental Science and Engineering/Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Environment Monitoring and Pollution Control, Nanjing University of
Information Science and Technology, Nanjing 210044, China

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Ground-based Aerosol optical properties and PM2.5 concentrations in an industrial area in Nanjing were
Received 22 April 2016 measured and analyzed from May 2013 to May 2015. The annual mean of the aerosol optical depth (AOD)
Received in revised form at 550 nm was 1.04 ± 0.63. The annual mean of the Angstrom exponent (a) was 1.03 ± 0.23. The annual
31 August 2016
PM2.5 concentration was 62 ± 13 mg m3. There were significant correlations between the PM2.5 con-
Accepted 4 September 2016
Available online 14 September 2016
centration and the AOD. The linear regression functions of the daily PM2.5 concentration (y) with the
ground-based AOD (x) and the MODIS AOD (x) were y ¼ 55.70x þ 25.60 (R2 ¼ 0.53) and
y ¼ 63.84x þ 39.33 (R2 ¼ 0.56), respectively. The results demonstrated significant differences in the
Keywords:
PM2.5
slopes and intercepts of the linear regression functions for different seasons. The distribution of PM2.5
Aerosol optical depth (AOD) was retrieved by the seasonal functions between the ground-based PM2.5 and the MODIS AOD on sunny
MODIS days in the region. The MODIS-derived PM2.5 concentrations in the north of Jiangsu and parts of Shan-
The Yangtze River Delta dong and Henan were generally higher than those in the hilly lands of the south of Anhui and the
northwest of Zhejiang. There was a high-PM2.5 area anchored over the industrial area. The particle
pollution was more serious in spring and winter than in autumn and summer. The MODIS-derived PM2.5
concentration in urban and industrial areas was higher than 80 mg m3 during spring and winter. The
retrieved PM2.5 values had the highest absolute error (þ17 mg m3) in summer and the lowest
(þ2 mg m3) in winter, and the average relative error of the seasonal PM2.5 concentration was 15% ± 10%.
Copyright © 2017 Turkish National Committee for Air Pollution Research and Control. Production and
hosting by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction Aerosols have an important influence on atmospheric visibility, the


radiation budget of the Earth-atmosphere system, the cloud-
Aerosol is a multi-phase system of solid and liquid particles forming process, precipitation and human health (IPCC, 2013;
suspended in the air with aerodynamic diameters ranging from Kaufman et al., 2002; Brunekreef and Holgate, 2002; Pope et al.,
103 mme10 mm and includes both the particles and the air. Typi- 1995). Aerosol optical depth (AOD) can be defined as the extinc-
cally, the small solid and liquid particles are regarded as aerosols. tion of optical beam power due to the presence of aerosols in the
atmosphere and thus serves as a measure of the aerosol column
concentration. AOD has been used to estimate the concentrations of
* Corresponding author. State Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Boundary Layer particle matters, especially the fine particulate matters (PM2.5)
Physics and Atmospheric Chemistry, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese observed on the surface. Many researchers have found that AOD
Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, China. has a strong positive relationship with the PM2.5 concentrations
E-mail address: xjy@mail.iap.ac.cn (J. Xin).
observed on the surface (Chu et al., 2002; Engel-Cox et al., 2004;
Peer review under responsibility of Turkish National Committee for Air
Pollution Research and Control. Gupta et al., 2006; Mukai et al., 2006; Schaap et al., 2009; Hoff and

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apr.2016.09.001
1309-1042/Copyright © 2017 Turkish National Committee for Air Pollution Research and Control. Production and hosting by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
234 P. Shao et al. / Atmospheric Pollution Research 8 (2017) 233e243

Christopher, 2009; Cao et al., 2014). Satellite remote sensing pro- were released in early 2014. The C6 level 2 MOD04 Deep Blue
vides comprehensive spatial and temporal coverage. Advances in aerosol data set with 10-km resolution (Opti-
satellite remote sensing seem promising to frequently and inex- cal_Depth_Land_And_Ocean) were used in this study. The Deep
pensively compute indirect estimates of PM2.5 over a large area. The Blue retrieval has expanded coverage to all cloud-free and snow-
application of satellite remote sensing in air quality studies has free land surfaces and available in heavy pollution conditions
evolved greatly in recent years (Hutchison, 2003; Al-Saadi et al., (Chu et al., 2002; Remer et al., 2005; Levy et al., 2010). In this study,
2005; Koelemeijer et al., 2006; Pe  re
 et al., 2009; Tan et al., 2015; MODIS AOD products at the 550 nm wavelength were averaged
Abril et al., 2016). Previous studies have examined the relationship over a 50 km  50 km area centered at the ground station
between PM2.5 and AOD using linear regression models (Wang and (including at least five pixels) (Ichoku et al., 2002).
Christopher, 2003; Zhang et al., 2009; van Donkelaar et al., 2010). The ground-based AOD measurements were conducted by using
However, empirical statistical methods require sufficient ground a narrow-band portable sunphotometer (MICROTOPS II, http://
PM2.5 measurements to fit and validate. The development of this www.solarlight.com) to measure the direct sunlight. The sunpho-
research area has been very limited in China, mainly due to the lack tometer is equipped with five spectral channels at wavelengths of
of extensive ground PM2.5 measurements. It is necessary to inves- 440 nm, 500 nm, 675 nm, 870 nm, and 936 nm (Morys et al., 2001;
tigate the relationships to promote the accuracy of satellite remote Ichoku et al., 2002; Xin et al., 2015). The FWHM (Full Width at Half
sensing with ground PM2.5 data, especially in high-aerosol- Maximum) is approximately 30 nm at 880 nm and approximately
emitting regions in China, such as the Bohai Rim in North China, 5 nm at the other wavelengths. The field of view is approximately
the Pearl River Delta and the Yangtze River Delta. 2.5 at each channel (Xin et al., 2014). The columnar AOD was
The Yangtze River Delta (YRD) is the largest estuary delta and derived from the solar radiance using the BeereLamberteBouguer
the fastest-growing economic region in China. During the past few law. Measurements were performed every sunny day from 10 a.m.
decades, large quantities of pollutants have been unavoidably to 2 p.m. (local time), overlapping with satellite overpass times. The
emitted into the atmosphere with the increasing economic calibration procedure of the sunphotometer can be found in Xin
expansion in eastern China (Fu et al., 2014; Ding et al., 2013). et al. (2007). A log-linear curve-fitting algorithm, with AODs at
Nanjing is one of the largest cities in the YRD and one of the most three wavelengths (440 nm, 500 nm and 675 nm), was applied to
massively industrialized and urbanized cities in East China. High estimate the Angstrom exponent (a), The Angstrom exponent is a
levels of ambient particulate loadings have been persistent and the basic parameter associated with the aerosol size distribution. In
most serious air pollution problem in the region (Fu et al., 2013; general, the values of the Angstrom exponent range from 0.0 to 2.0,
Wang et al., 2014). Routine surface and satellite measurements with smaller values of a corresponding to larger aerosol particle
are necessary for studying the climatic and environmental effect of sizes (Dubovik et al., 2002; Kim et al., 2004). In order to facilitate
regional aerosol. However, the information regarding the rela- comparison, ground-based AODs at 550 nm were interpolated from
tionship between ground-based PM2.5 concentration and ground- AODs at 500 nm retrieved from sunphotometer measurements. The
based AOD over the YRD is sparse. In this study, the relationship ground-based AODs were averaged within 0.5 h of the satellite
between the ground-based PM2.5 and the AOD (the ground-based overpass times. The Angstrom exponent is defined as:
AOD and the MODIS AOD) in the industrial area of the YRD was
investigated with the utilization of the synchronous 2-year data taero ðlÞ ¼ bla (1)
(the ground-based AOD, the MODIS AOD and PM2.5).
where taero (l) is AOD, b is the turbidity coefficient, which repre-
2. Site description, instrumentation and data sents the content of aerosols in the atmosphere; a is the Angstrom
exponent. The Angstrom exponent can be calculated with the
Fig. 1 shows the geographical location of the observation site following equation:
(32.21N, 118.70E, elevation of 62 m). The station is located in the
ln½taero ðl2 Þ  ln½taero ðl1 Þ
northern suburb of Nanjing, an industrial area featuring a heavy a¼ (2)
concentration of industry in the YRD. The station is surrounded by lnðl2 Þ  lnðl1 Þ
industrial parks, residential areas, forests and arterial roads, with To calculate AODs at 550 nm [taero (550)], we can define l1 ¼ 500
the Nanjing urban center nearly 20 km to the southeast. Two in- and l2 ¼ 550. Thus, taero (550) can be calculated with the following
dustrial parks containing several iron and steel plants and cogen- equations:
eration power plants are located 5e10 km northeast of the
observation site. This region suffers from both the heavy traffic and ln½taero ð550Þ  ln½taero ð500Þ
a¼ (3)
the agglomeration of heavy industry. The observation site is lnð550Þ  lnð500Þ
selected and set up according to the US EPA method designations
(US EPA, 1998a, 1998b). taero ð550Þ ¼ expfln½taero ð500Þ  a ln 1:1g (4)
The data of ground-based PM2.5, ground-based AOD and
satellite-derived AOD from May 2013 to May 2015 were collected.
All the ground-based observations were taken at the same site. The
Measurements of the ground PM2.5 were conducted using an 3. Results and discussion
FH62C14 instrument manufactured by Thermo Fisher Scientific.
The FH62C14 detected particulate matter using the b-ray method 3.1. Variation characteristics of the ground-based PM2.5
with a time resolution of 30 min and a minimum detectable limit of concentration and aerosol optical properties
4 mg m3 (1-h ave.) or 1 mg m3 (24-h ave.). The instrument's
working temperature was set to 30 to 60  C, and we used a Figs. 2 and 3 show the daily and monthly means of the ground-
heating temperature of 45  C with a self-removing tube heater to based PM2.5 concentration, the ground-based AOD, the MODIS AOD
remove the excess water vapor in the air. Hourly averaged PM2.5 and the Angstrom exponent (a) in the region. According to “the
concentration was adopted in this study. national ambient air quality standards” (NAAQS) (GB3095-2012),
We obtained the Collection 6 MODIS-Terra (Moderate Resolu- 75 mg m3 and 35 mg m3 are the respective recommended limits of
tion Imaging Spectroradiometer-Terra) aerosol products, which daily and annual PM2.5 concentration for Class II ambient air quality
P. Shao et al. / Atmospheric Pollution Research 8 (2017) 233e243 235

Fig. 1. The geographical location and the surrounding environment of the observation station in the industrial area in Nanjing, Yangtze River Delta. The blue dots show locations of
the 9 State-controlled monitoring sites and the red star shows the location of the observation site.

Fig. 2. The daily means of the ground-based PM2.5 concentration (a), the MODIS AOD (b), the ground-based AOD (c) and Angstrom exponent (a) (d).

function zones (e.g., industrial areas). During the observation North Africa, Europe and America that the concentration level of
period, 21.01% of the days exceeded the daily standard (75 mg m3). PM2.5 in the industrial area of Nanjing was much higher than those
The annual mean PM2.5 concentration was 62.29 ± 13.19 mg m3, in other regions. Along with industrialization, urbanization and
which was 1.78 times higher than the annual standard (35 mg m3). rapid economic development, the fine particle pollution represents
Table 1 describes the PM2.5 concentrations in the industrial area in a very serious issue in this region. During the observation period,
Nanjing and those from other industrial sites. It was evident from the annual mean AOD at 550 nm was 1.04 ± 0.63, which was higher
previous studies conducted in industrial areas in the Middle East, than that (0.6 ± 0.3) observed in urban Nanjing, while the annual
236 P. Shao et al. / Atmospheric Pollution Research 8 (2017) 233e243

150
(a)

PM /μg·m
100

50

4 (b)
MODIS AOD

3
(550nm)

2
1
0

4 (c)
Ground-based AOD

3
(550nm)

2
1
0
2.0
Angstrom exponent (α)

(d)
1.5
(440-870nm)

1.0
0.5
0.0
2013-05
2013-06
2013-07
2013-08
2013-09
2013-10
2013-11
2013-12
2014-01
2014-02
2014-03
2014-04
2014-05
2014-06
2014-07
2014-08
2014-09
2014-10
2014-11
2014-12
2015-01
2015-02
2015-03
2015-04
2015-05
Date (Year-Month)

Fig. 3. The monthly means of the ground-based PM2.5 concentration (a), the MODIS AOD (b), the ground-based AOD (c) and Angstrom exponent (a) (d).

Table 1
The PM2.5 concentrations in the industrial area in Nanjing and those from other industrial sites.

Country Site Type Period PM2.5/mg m3 References

China Nanjing Industrial May 2013eMay 2015 62.29 ± 13.19 This study
Saudi Arabia Taif City Industrial 2011e2012 57 ± 22 Shaltout et al., 2015
Egypt Greater Cairo Industrial 2010 12 ± 2 Shaltout et al., 2014
Italy Brindisi Industrial Jun.eOct. 2012 15 ± 5 Cesari et al., 2014
Jamaica Kingston Industrial Dec. 2013eMar. 2014 44 ± 21 Boman and Gaita, 2015

mean Angstrom exponent between 440 nm and 870 nm was and 63.22 ± 6.88 mg m3, respectively, and the Angstrom exponent
1.03 ± 0.23, slightly lower that (1.25 ± 0.29) in urban Nanjing exhibited a value of 1.04 ± 0.08. In winter, the minimum seasonal
(Zhuang et al., 2014). values of the ground-based AOD and PM2.5 were 0.72 ± 0.23 and
There were small seasonal variations in the PM2.5 concentration 61.42 ± 15.56 mg m3, respectively. With the share of fine particles
[Fig. 3 (a)] and the Angstrom exponent [Fig. 3 (d)], while the sea- increasing in winter, the Angstrom exponent reached a maximum
sonal variations in AOD, including the ground-based AOD [Fig. 3 (c)] value of 1.08 ± 0.10. In general, the seasonal variations of AOD in the
and the MODIS AOD [Fig. 3 (b)], were more obvious. Because the northern suburb of Nanjing were similar to the observation results
aerosol loading is dominated by consistent, local anthropogenic in urban Nanjing (Li et al., 2015) and other sites in the YRD (Pan
sources such as sulfate aerosols and nitrate aerosols in the northern et al., 2010).
industrial suburbs of Nanjing, the PM2.5 concentration and the
Angstrom exponent appeared stable. The peak values of the MODIS 3.2. The relationship between the PM2.5 concentration and AOD
AOD and the ground-based AOD usually appeared in summer,
while the valley values appeared in winter. The maximum monthly Fig. 4 illustrates the scatterplots and the relationships between
mean of the ground-based AOD (2.42 ± 1.41) occurred in August the PM2.5 concentrations, the ground-based AOD and the MODIS
2014 and the minimum (0.48 ± 0.28) in December 2013. In spring, AOD. The daily PM2.5 concentration, the monthly PM2.5 concen-
the mean values of the ground-based AOD and PM2.5 were tration, the ground-based AOD and the MODIS AOD showed similar
1.01 ± 0.14 and 61.92 ± 17.74 mg m3, respectively, while the trends. The linear regression functions of the daily PM2.5 concen-
Angstrom exponent reached a minimum value of 0.97 ± 0.14. It can tration (y) with the ground-based AOD (x) and the MODIS AOD (x)
be inferred that large dust particles and soil aerosols may be the were y ¼ 55.70x þ 25.60 (R2 ¼ 0.53) [Fig. 4 (a)] and
dominant aerosol types. In summer, the maximum seasonal value y ¼ 63.84x þ 39.33 (R2 ¼ 0.56) [Fig. 4 (e)], respectively. The linear
of the ground-based AOD was 1.64 ± 0.49, while the seasonal mean regression functions of the monthly PM2.5 concentration (y) with
PM2.5 concentration and the Angstrom exponent were the ground-based AOD (x) and the MODIS AOD (x) were
57.41 ± 17.74 mg m3 and 0.98 ± 0.08, respectively. In autumn, the y ¼ 49.67x þ 14.45 (R2 ¼ 0.61) [Fig. 4 (b)] and y ¼ 53.10x þ 45.29
mean values of the ground-based AOD and PM2.5 were 1.05 ± 0.08 (R2 ¼ 0.60) [Fig. 4 (f)], respectively. The differences among the
P. Shao et al. / Atmospheric Pollution Research 8 (2017) 233e243 237

α α
300 1.9 150 1.4
Daily mean (2013.5-2015.5) (a) Monthly mean (2013.5-2015.5) (b)
y = 55.70x + 25.60 1.7 y = 49.67x + 14.45
R = 0.53 R = 0.61
1.5 1.2
200 100
PM2.5/μg·m-3

PM2.5/μg·m-3
1.3

1.1 1.0

0.9
100 50
0.7 0.8

0.5

0 0.3 0 0.6
0 1 2 3 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0
Observed AOD α Observed AOD α
1.9 1.4
Daily mean (2013.5-2015.5) (c) Monthly mean (2013.5-2015.5) (d)
3 y = 0.90x + 0.01 1.7 3 y = 0.91x - 0.01
R = 0.83 R = 0.75
1.5 1.2
MODIS AOD

MODIS AOD
1.3
2 2
1.1 1.0

0.9
1 1
0.7 0.8

0.5

0 0.3 0 0.6
0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Observed AOD α Observed AOD α
300 1.9 150 1.4
Daily mean (2013.5-2015.5) (e) (f)
y = 63.84x + 39.33 1.7
R = 0.56
1.5 1.2
200 100
PM2.5/μg·m-3

PM2.5/μg·m-3

1.3

1.1 1.0

0.9
100 50
0.7 0.8
Monthly mean (2013.5-2015.5)
0.5
y = 53.10x + 45.29
R = 0.60
0 0.3 0 0.6
0 1 2 3 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0
MODIS AOD MODIS AOD

Fig. 4. The scatterplots and the relationships among the ground-based PM2.5, the ground-based AOD, and the MODIS AOD. The color bars mean the magnitude of the Angstrom
exponent (a).

slopes and intercepts of the aforementioned functions were clear, the Angstrom exponent was larger than 1.5 (with a small range of
while the correlation coefficients were nearly equal. The differences AOD), there was a good linear correlation between the ground-
among the slopes and the differences among the intercepts implied based AOD and the daily PM2.5 concentration. The linear correla-
that the MODIS AOD was valid and could be used for the retrieval of tion between the MODIS AOD and the daily PM2.5 concentration
ground PM2.5 on a regional scale when the linear regression func- was also good (the correlation coefficient ¼ 0.75e0.77). However,
tion was calibrated by surface PM2.5 concentration (Gupta and the sample numbers of PM2.5, the observed AOD and the MODIS
Christopher, 2008). These differences among the regression func- AOD were very small when the Angstrom exponent was larger than
tions for the daily means and the monthly means implied that the 1.5. When the Angstrom exponent was between 0.5 and 1.5 (with a
retrieval of the surface PM2.5 concentration with the utilization of large range of AOD), the linear correlations were not as good as
either the daily functions or the monthly functions would result in those with an Angstrom exponent larger than 1.5, but they were
system errors (Gupta and Christopher, 2008). The main reason for better than those with an Angstrom exponent less than 0.5. It was
the errors was the seasonal variations of the aerosol types in the implied that the extinction of small aerosols (Angstrom expo-
northern industrial suburbs of Nanjing. Xin et al. (2011) investi- nent > 1.0) and middle aerosols (0.5 < Angstrom exponent < 1.0)
gated the propagation of the retrieval differences resulting from the was stronger than that of large aerosols (Angstrom exponent < 0.5)
monthly averaging of the MODIS AOD due to the aerosol type at the same PM2.5 concentration. There were high correlations
variations in North China. It must be important to minimize the between the ground-based AOD and the MODIS AOD. With an
seasonal system errors when retrieving the PM2.5 concentration increasing Angstrom exponent (decreasing dominant aerosol size),
with the MODIS AOD. the slopes increased from 0.85 to 0.92. The systemic retrieval errors
Fig. 4 and Table 2 show the linear regression functions and the of the MODIS AOD were smaller for small aerosols than for large
coefficients of determination (R2) of the daily PM2.5 concentration, aerosols in the region. However, it was difficult to use a linear
the ground-based AOD and the MODIS AOD classified with the regression to fit the paired data of the ground-based AOD and the
ranges of the Angstrom exponent (a). As shown in Table 2, when MODIS AOD because the sample numbers were insufficient.
238 P. Shao et al. / Atmospheric Pollution Research 8 (2017) 233e243

Table 2
The linear regression functions and the coefficients of determination (R2) of the daily observed PM2.5 concentration, the ground-based AOD and the MODIS AOD classified with
the ranges of the Angstrom exponent (a) (p < 0.001, at 0.01 level).

x y Daily mean Monthly mean a  0.5 0.5 < a  1.0 1.0 < a  1.5 1.5 < a

Observed AOD MODIS AOD y ¼ 0.90x þ 0.01 y ¼ 0.91x  0.01 y ¼ 0.85x e 0.07 y ¼ 0.87x þ 0.06 y ¼ 0.92x e 0.04 e
R2 ¼ 0.83 R2 ¼ 0.75 R2 ¼ 0.77 R2 ¼ 0.81 R2 ¼ 0.82 e
N ¼ 181 N ¼ 25 N ¼ 13 N ¼ 54 N ¼ 113 N¼1
Observed AOD PM2.5 y ¼ 55.70x þ 25.60 y ¼ 49.67x þ 14.45 y ¼ 60.40x þ 69.24 y ¼ 54.40x þ 24.34 y ¼ 54.54x þ 26.31 y ¼ 65.39x þ 20.96
R2 ¼ 0.53 R2 ¼ 0.61 R2 ¼ 0.35 R2 ¼ 0.50 R2 ¼ 0.68 R2 ¼ 0.94
N ¼ 290 N ¼ 25 N ¼ 18 N ¼ 100 N ¼ 167 N¼5
MODIS AOD PM2.5 y ¼ 63.84x þ 39.33 y ¼ 53.10x þ 45.29 y ¼ 78.56x þ 48.03 y ¼ 62.61x þ 40.45 y ¼ 63.93x þ 39.10 y ¼ 67.99x þ 13.07
R2 ¼ 0.56 R2 ¼ 0.60 R2 ¼ 0.29 R2 ¼ 0.56 R2 ¼ 0.60 R2 ¼ 0.75
N ¼ 188 N ¼ 25 N ¼ 11 N ¼ 56 N ¼ 116 N¼5

Figs. 5 and 6 illustrate the scatterplots of the ground-based in summer (compared with the function y ¼ 59.20x þ 18.44),
PM2.5 concentration with the ground-based AOD and the MODIS from 12% to 3% in autumn (compared with the function
AOD in the four seasons. Table 3 describes the linear regression y ¼ 69.78x þ 20.29) and from 12% to 13% in winter (compared with
functions, the coefficients of determination (R2), and the sample the function y ¼ 62.99x þ 29.34). In comparison with the observed
numbers (N) of the measurements. As shown in Table 3, there were seasonal average PM2.5 concentration, the seasonal average PM2.5
good correlations between the ground-based PM2.5 concentration concentration retrieved from the ground-based AOD was under-
and the AOD in each of the four seasons (the correlation estimated by 9% and 10% in autumn and winter, respectively, and
coefficient ¼ 0.73e0.77). However, the linear regression functions was overestimated by 10% and 2% in spring and summer, respec-
exhibited large variations in the slopes and intercepts. Previous tively. Similarly, the linear regression function of the PM2.5 con-
research on these differences revealed that they may be caused by centration and the MODIS AOD, constructed using the daily mean
the increase of the small aerosol concentration during autumn and during the observation period (y ¼ 63.84x þ 39.33), was used to
winter by the change of weather conditions (Schafer et al., 2008). In retrieve the PM2.5 concentrations in the four seasons. With the
comparison with the linear regression functions for the four sea- MODIS AOD rising from 0.1 to 0.5, the relative error of the retrieved
sons, some errors would be inevitable when the linear regression PM2.5 concentration changed from 6% to 1% in spring (compared
function, constructed using the daily mean during the observation with the function y ¼ 70.49x þ 35.70), from 22% to 16% in
period (y ¼ 55.70x þ 25.60), was used to retrieve the PM2.5 con- summer (compared with the function y ¼ 61.23x þ 29.42), from 11%
centration with the AOD in all four seasons. When the AOD rose to 9% in autumn (compared with the function y ¼ 67.83x þ 43.77)
from 0.1 to 0.5, the relative error of the retrieved PM2.5 concen- and 7%e1% in winter (compared with the function
tration changed from 23% to 15% in spring (compared with the y ¼ 56.56x þ 43.12). In comparison with the observed seasonal
linear regression function y ¼ 53.38x þ 18.56), from 21% to 10% average PM2.5 concentration, the seasonal average PM2.5

α α
300 1.9 300 1.9
Daily mean Daily mean
y = 53.38x + 18.56 (R = 0.56) 1.7 y = 59.20x + 18.44 (R = 0.58) 1.7
(a) Spring (b) Summer
1.5 1.5
200 200
PM2.5/μg·m-3

PM2.5/μg·m-3

1.3 1.3

1.1 1.1

0.9 0.9
100 100
0.7 0.7

0.5 0.5

0 0.3 0 0.3
0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Ground-based AOD Ground-based AOD
α α
300 1.9 300 1.9
Daily mean Daily mean
y = 69.78x + 20.29 (R = 0.59) 1.7 y = 62.99x + 29.34 (R = 0.53) 1.7
(c) Autumn (d) Winter
1.5 1.5
200 200
PM2.5/μg·m-3

PM2.5/μg·m-3

1.3 1.3

1.1 1.1

0.9 0.9
100 100
0.7 0.7

0.5 0.5

0 0.3 0 0.3
0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Ground-based AOD Ground-based AOD

Fig. 5. The scatterplots and the relationships between the concentration of the ground-based PM2.5 and the ground-based AOD. The color bars mean the magnitude of the Angstrom
exponent (a).
P. Shao et al. / Atmospheric Pollution Research 8 (2017) 233e243 239

Fig. 6. The scatterplots and the relationships between the concentration of ground-based PM2.5 and the MODIS AOD. The color bars mean the magnitude of the Angstrom exponent
(a).

Table 3
The linear regression functions and the coefficients of determination (R2) of the daily observed PM2.5 concentration, the ground-based AOD and the MODIS AOD at 550 nm
(p < 0.001, at 0.01 level).

x y Daily mean Monthly mean Spring Summer Autumn Winter

Observed AOD MODIS AOD y ¼ 0.90x þ 0.01 y ¼ 0.91x  0.01 y ¼ 0.83x þ 0.01 y ¼ 0.87x e 0.08 y ¼ 0.91x e 0.02 y ¼ 22.93x  22.03
R2 ¼ 0.83 R2 ¼ 0.75 R2 ¼ 0.83 R2 ¼ 0.77 R2 ¼ 0.86 R2 ¼ 0.78
N ¼ 181 N ¼ 25 N ¼ 52 N ¼ 24 N ¼ 40 N ¼ 65
Observed AOD PM2.5 y ¼ 55.70x þ 25.60 y ¼ 49.67x þ 14.45 y ¼ 53.38x þ 18.56 y ¼ 59.20x þ 18.44 y ¼ 69.78x þ 20.29 y ¼ 62.99x þ 29.34
R2 ¼ 0.53 R2 ¼ 0.61 R2 ¼ 0.56 R2 ¼ 0.58 R2 ¼ 0.59 R2 ¼ 0.53
N ¼ 290 N ¼ 25 N ¼ 86 N ¼ 62 N ¼ 67 N ¼ 75
MODIS AOD PM2.5 y ¼ 63.84x þ 39.33 y ¼ 53.10x þ 45.29 y ¼ 70.49x þ 35.70 y ¼ 61.23x þ 29.42 y ¼ 67.83x þ 43.77 y ¼ 56.56x þ 43.12
R2 ¼ 0.56 R2 ¼ 0.60 R2 ¼ 0.58 R2 ¼ 0.56 R2 ¼ 0.60 R2 ¼ 0.57
N ¼ 188 N ¼ 25 N ¼ 55 N ¼ 25 N ¼ 47 N ¼ 61

concentration retrieved from the MODIS AOD was underestimated Henan. These results were in accordance with the information
by 1% and 8% in spring and autumn, respectively, and was over- revealed by Zhang and Cao (2015) that the ground-based PM2.5
estimated by 15% and 1% in summer and winter, respectively. We concentrations were generally higher in the North regions,
can conclude that the seasonal regression functions of PM2.5 con- including Hebei, Shandong and Henan, than those observed in the
centrations with AODs must result in much smaller errors when South regions. For the distribution of the MODIS-derived PM2.5 over
PM2.5 concentrations are retrieved using AODs. Nanjing, there was a high-PM2.5 area anchoring over the industrial
area of Nanjing [Fig. 7 (j)]. Zhao et al. (2015) found that there were
3.3. The distribution of PM2.5 retrieved with the MODIS AOD relatively high emission densities of PM2.5 in the area around
certain large power generation and industrial sources in Nanjing.
We can retrieve the distribution of the PM2.5 concentration over Obviously, the pollution of PM2.5 was severe in the region and
the YRD with the regression models relating the ground PM2.5 to exceeded the annual standard of the NAAQS (35 mg m3). Air pol-
functions of the MODIS AOD. Fig. 7 shows the seasonal and annual lutants can mix adequately on a local scale during clear days, and
distributions of the MODIS-derived PM2.5 concentration on clear high levels of PM2.5 in the industrial area in Nanjing meant that
days. The annual MODIS-derived PM2.5 concentration was greater local emissions of air pollutants were strong. Differences were
than 60 mg m3 on clear days during the observation period over apparent in the seasonal distribution of the MODIS-derived PM2.5
Shanghai, Jiangsu and most of Anhui [Fig. 7 (i)]. The annual MODIS- concentration. In general, the particle pollution was more severe in
derived PM2.5 concentration was approximately 40e50 mg m3 over spring [Fig. 7 (a)] and winter [Fig. 7 (g)] than that in autumn [Fig. 7
the hilly lands in the south of Anhui and the northwest of Zhejiang. (c)] and summer [Fig. 7 (b)]. The MODIS-derived PM2.5 concentra-
The annual MODIS-derived PM2.5 concentration reached tion in most of the region, especially coastal areas, was less than
80e85 mg m3 in the north of Jiangsu and parts of Shandong and 50 mg m3 during summertime. It can be inferred that the relatively
240 P. Shao et al. / Atmospheric Pollution Research 8 (2017) 233e243

Fig. 7. The distribution of the concentration of PM2.5 retrieved with the MODIS AOD in the Yangtze River Delta and Nanjing on sunny days from 2013 to 2015; (a) & (b) for the
seasonal mean in spring, (c) & (d) in summer, (e) & (f) in autumn, (g) & (h) in winter, and (i) & (j) for the annual mean.
P. Shao et al. / Atmospheric Pollution Research 8 (2017) 233e243 241

clean air masses carried by the summer monsoon diluted the MODIS AOD and the ground PM2.5 are mainly caused by the
concentration of PM2.5. Strong convective activities in summer following reasons: (1) When PM2.5 concentrations are derived from
were also beneficial for the diffusion and removal of pollutants the AOD using the linear regression functions, the systematic error
from the air. Wang et al. (2013) reported that the annual mean of the linear regression functions is inevitable. The enough vapors
concentration of PM2.5 was 62.25 mg m3 in urban Shanghai from may enlarge the AOD, which results in the overestimation of the
2009 to 2010, and the result was very close to the MODIS-derived ground PM2.5 in summer. (2) The aerosols come from a wide variety
PM2.5 over urban Shanghai (60e65 mg m3). Nevertheless, it is of sources and the underlying surfaces are uneven in the YRD, so
necessary to investigate the relationship between the ground- the spatial distribution of aerosols is usually uneven. As illustrated
based PM2.5 concentration and the AOD (the ground-based AOD in Fig. 1, the 9 state-controlled monitoring sites are mainly in urban
and the MODIS AOD) in more regions with extensive ground Nanjing, and the observations cannot reflect the air pollution in
measurement of PM2.5. In addition, the use of seasonal regression industrial areas. More monitoring sites should be set up in indus-
functions of the ground-based PM2.5 concentration and the AOD trial areas in the northern suburb of Nanjing, making the ambient
was also necessary and effective for decreasing the error of the air quality monitoring network of Nanjing more reasonable.
retrieval of the PM2.5 concentration with MODIS AOD.
4. Conclusions
3.4. Error analysis of PM2.5 retrieved with the MODIS AOD
Along with industrialization, urbanization and rapid economic
Since 2013, 9 PM2.5 monitoring sites have been deployed in development, particle pollution is serious in Nanjing, especially in
Nanjing by the Nanjing Environmental Protection Bureau, the northern industrial suburbs. The PM2.5 concentration in the
providing hourly PM2.5 concentrations. The hourly PM2.5 concen- industrial area of Nanjing was much higher than those of various
trations observed at 9 monitoring stations in Nanjing were ob- other industrial areas in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and
tained from the Nanjing Environmental Monitoring Center (http:// America. The daily mean PM2.5 concentrations exceeded the WHO
222.190.111.117:8023/). Synchronized PM2.5 concentrations were IT.1 standard or the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS)
averaged as a spatial mean, and then the daily, monthly and sea- (75 mg m3) by a rate greater than 20%, and the annual mean PM2.5
sonal spatial mean of PM2.5 were calculated. Then, the applicability concentration was 1.78 times higher than the annual standard of
of regressions in terms of seasons was estimated. WHO IT.1 or the NAAQS (35 mg m3) from 2013 to 2015. There was a
Fig. 8 shows the daily [Fig. 8 (a)], monthly [Fig. 8 (b)] and sea- high correlation between the PM2.5 concentration and the ground-
sonal relative errors (RE) [Fig. 8 (c)] for the PM2.5 retrieved with the based AOD for all four seasons, including slopes from 53 to 70,
MODIS AOD versus the ground PM2.5. Overall, it would over- intercepts from 18 to 29, and correlation coefficients (R2) from 0.53
estimate the levels of the ground PM2.5 when the PM2.5 concen- to 0.59. The differences of the linear regression functions were due
trations retrieved with the MODIS AOD were put in use, and the to the seasonal variations of the aerosol types and atmospheric
average RE was 15%. The seasonal RE varied obviously. The REs were humidity. The correlation between the PM2.5 concentration and the
highest in summer, lowest in winter and modest in autumn and MODIS C6 AOD was also analyzed by season, and the correlation
spring. The differences between the PM2.5 retrieved with the exhibited similar characteristics to the correlation between the

100
(a)
Daily RE (%)

50

-50
2013/7/1 2013/10/1 2014/1/1 2014/4/1 2014/7/1 2014/10/1 2015/1/1 2015/4/1
Date (YY/MM/DD)

40 (b)
Monthly RE (%)

30
20
10
0
-10
-20
2013/07

2013/08

2013/09

2013/10

2013/11

2013/12

2014/01

2014/02

2014/03

2014/04

2014/05

2014/06

2014/07

2014/08

2014/09

2014/10

2014/11

2014/12

2015/01

2015/02

2015/03

2015/04

2015/05

Date (YY/MM)

30 (c)
Seasonal RE (%)

20

10

0
Summer 2013 Autumn 2013 Winter 2013 Spring 2014 Summer 2014 Autumn 2014 Winter 2014 Spring 2015

Fig. 8. The daily, monthly and seasonal relative errors (RE) for the PM2.5 retrieved with the MODIS AOD versus the ground PM2.5. It represents an overestimation of the con-
centration of PM2.5 when the value of column is greater than 0, and an underestimation when less than 0.
242 P. Shao et al. / Atmospheric Pollution Research 8 (2017) 233e243

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temporal variations of aerosol optical thickness and particulate matter over
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