Aerosol Hygroscopicity during the Haze Red-Alert Period in December 2016 at a Rural Site of the North China Plain

Xuefei Qi, Junying Sun*, Lu Zhang, Xiaojing Shen, Xiaoye Zhang, Yangmei Zhang, Yaqiang Wang, Haochi Che, Zhouxiang Zhang, Junting Zhong, Kaiyan Tan, Huarong Zhao, Sanxue Ren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A humidification system was deployed to measure aerosol hygroscopicity at a rural site of the North China Plain during the haze red-alert period 17–22 December 2016. The aerosol scattering coefficients under dry [relative humidity (RH) < 30%] and wet (RH in the range of 40%–85%) conditions were simultaneously measured at wavelengths of 450, 550, and 700 nm. It is found that the aerosol scattering coefficient and backscattering coefficient increased by only 29% and 10%, respectively when RH went up from 40% to 80%, while the hemispheric backscatter fraction went down by 14%, implying that the aerosol hygroscopicity represented by the aerosol scattering enhancement factor f(RH) is relatively low and RH exerted little effects on the aerosol light scattering in this case. The scattering enhancement factors do not show significant differences at the three wavelengths, only with an approximate 2% variation, suggesting that the aerosol hygroscopicity is independent of the wavelength. Aerosol hygroscopicity is highly dependent on the aerosol chemical composition. When there is a large mass fraction of inorganics and a small mass fraction of organic matter, f(RH) reaches a high value. The fraction of NO3 was strongly correlated with the aerosol scattering coefficient at RH = 80%, which suggests that NO3 played an important role in aerosol hygroscopic growth during the heavy pollution period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-48
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Meteorological Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • aerosol hygroscopicity
  • chemical composition
  • scattering enhancement factor


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