April 15, 2021
Journal Article

Constructing a spatiotemporally coherent long-term PM2.5 concentration dataset over China during 1980-2019 using a machine learning approach

Abstract

The lack of long-term observations and satellite retrievals of health-damaging fine particulate matter in China has demanded the estimates of historical PM2.5 (particulate matter less than 2.5 µm in diameter) concentrations. This study constructs a gridded near-surface PM2.5 concentration dataset across China covering 1980–2019 using the space-time random forest model with atmospheric visibility observations and other auxiliary data. The modeled daily PM2.5 concentrations are in excellent agreement with ground measurements during 2015–2019, with a coefficient of determination of 0.95 and mean relative error of 12%. Besides the atmospheric visibility which explains 30% of total importance of variables in the model, both emissions and meteorological conditions are also essential factors affecting PM2.5 predictions. From 1980 to 2014, the model-predicted PM2.5 concentrations increased constantly with the maximum growth rate of 5–10 µg/m3/decade over eastern China. Due to the clean air actions, PM2.5 concentrations have decreased effectively at a rate over 50 µg/m3/decade in the North China Plain and 20–50 µg/m3/decade over eastern China during 2014–2019. The newly generated dataset of 1-degree gridded PM2.5 concentrations for the past 40 years across China provides a useful means for investigating interannual and decadal environmental and climate impacts related to aerosols.

Revised: December 31, 2020 | Published: April 15, 2021

Citation

Li H., Y. Yang, H. Wang, B. Li, P. Wang, J. Li, and H. Liao. 2021. "Constructing a spatiotemporally coherent long-term PM2.5 concentration dataset over China during 1980-2019 using a machine learning approach." Science of the Total Environment 765. PNNL-SA-156643. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.144263