, Volume 119, Issue 1-2, pp 17-29
Date: 04 Nov 2012

New evidence of orographic precipitation suppression by aerosols in central China

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The correlation between light precipitation events and visibility at Mt. Hua, (Shannxi Province, China) and at the surrounding plains stations was analyzed. Trends and changes in visibility, precipitation, the precipitation difference between Mt. Hua and the plains stations (De) and wind speed over the study area during the years 1980–2009 were also investigated. The significant positive correlation between visibility and light precipitation throughout the study period indicates that light precipitation events, notably orographic precipitation, are suppressed by aerosol pollution in this region. The trend of increasing air pollution aerosols since 1980, represented by visibility at Mt. Hua, ended in 2002 with a decreasing trend observed in more recent years. These changes were mirrored by corresponding changes in De. However, the total precipitation trends at Mt. Hua and the plains stations are consistent in both frequency and amount during the two periods, suggesting that the suppressive effect of pollution aerosols on light and moderate precipitation is the most likely cause for the changes in orographic precipitation at Mt. Hua during this time. The analysis of wind strength suggests that the increase in winds at Mt. Hua is highly related to the aerosol radiative effects; this increase of mountain winds is therefore a potential cause for the reduction in precipitation at Mt. Hua. This research provides further support for the hypothesis that aerosol microphysical effects can reduce orographic precipitation and suggests that aerosol radiative effects might act to suppress orographic precipitation through changes in wind speed.

Responsible Editor: R. Roebeling.