Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics

, Volume 92, Issue 3, pp 239-254

First online:

Effects of atmospheric circulation and boundary layer structure on the dispersion of suspended particulates in the Seoul metropolitan area

  • H. ChoiAffiliated withDepartment of Atmospheric Environmental Sciences, Kangnung National UniversityState Key Joint Laboratory of Environmental Simulation and Pollution Control, College of Environmental Sciences, Peking University
  • , M. S. SpeerAffiliated withCentre for Environmental Modelling and Prediction, School of Mathematics, The University of New South Wales

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A three-dimensional non-hydrostatic numerical model and lagrangian particle model (random walk model) were used to investigate the effects of the atmospheric circulation and boundary layer structure on the dispersion of suspended particulates in the Seoul metropolitan area. Initially, emitted particulate matter rises from the surface of the city towards the top of the convective boundary layer (CBL), owing to daytime thermal heating of the surface and the combined effect of an onshore wind with a westerly synoptic-scale wind. A reinforcing sea-valley breeze directed from the coast toward the city of Seoul, which is enclosed in a basin and bordered by mountains to its east, disperses the suspended particulate matter toward the eastern mountains. Total suspended particulate concentration (TSP) at ground level in the city is very low and relatively high in the mountains. Radiative cooling of the surface produces a shallow nocturnal surface inversion layer (NSIL) and the suspended particulate matter still present near the top of the CBL from the previous day, sinks to the surface. An easterly downslope mountain wind is directed into the metropolitan area, transporting particulate matter towards the city, thereby recycling the pollutants. The particulates descending from the top of the NSIL and mountains, combine with particulates emitted near the surface over the city at night, and under the shallow NSIL spread out, resulting in a maximum ground level concentration of TSP in the metropolitan area at 2300 LST. As those particles move toward the Yellow Sea through the topographically shaped outlet west of Seoul city under the influence of the easterly land breeze, the maximum TSP concentration occurs at the coastal site. During the following morning, onshore winds resulting from a combined synoptic-scale westerly wind and westerly sea breeze, force particulates dispersed the previous night to move over the adjacent sea and back over the inland metropolitan area. The recycled particulates combine with the particulates emitted from the surface in the central part of the metropolitan area, producing a high TSP and again rise towards the top of the CBL ready to repeat the cycle.