The North China Plain (NCP) to the east of the Loess Plateau is one of the most heavily polluted areas in the world. Weak surface flow in the western part of the NCP exacerbates the air pollution in this region. Deceleration of low-level flow when approaching the Loess Plateau, together with enhanced roughness associated with large cities, were previously ascribed as the causes for low wind speeds in the NCP. Using numerical simulations with a one-layer dispersion model, we identify that dynamic modification of airflow by the Loess Plateau (not just simple deceleration due to mountain blocking) plays an important role in reducing the wind speed over the NCP. Dynamically-induced northerly barrier winds, superimposed on the prevailing southerly/south-easterly flow, reduce the wind speed in a 50–100 km wide region to the east of the Plateau, partially explaining the weak winds in the western part of the NCP. Poor dispersion conditions due to weak horizontal winds likely contribute to the accumulation of pollutants in this region.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atmospheric Science