OMI-based emission source classification in East China and its spatial redistribution in view of pollution control measures

Marina Zara, Ronald van der A, Jieying Ding, Trissevgeni Stavrakou, Folkert Boersma*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study aims to generate a satellite-based qualitative emission source characterization for the heavily polluted eastern part of China in the 2010–2016 time period. The applied source identification technique relies on satellite-based NOx and SO2 emission estimates by OMI, their SO2:NOx ratio, and the MIX anthropogenic emission inventory to distinguish emissions from different emission categories (urban, industrial, natural) and characterize the dominant source per 0.25° × 0.25° grid cell in East China. Overall, we find good agreement between the satellite- and emission inventory–based spatiotemporal distribution and characterization of the dominant emission sources in East China in 2010–2016. In 2010, the satellite measurements suggest an emission distribution less dominated by industrial areas, a somewhat larger role for urban/transportation areas and agricultural activities, and more natural emissions in the southern part compared to the bottom-up emission categorization. In 2016, more than half of the classified emission categories over East China have remained the same. At the same time, there is a notable increase of agricultural lands and decrease of areas dominated by industry/transportation in 2016, suggestive of an overall decrease in heavy air pollution in East China over the course of 7 years. This is likely attributed to the sustained efforts of the Chinese government to drastically improve the air quality, especially since 2013 when the National Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan was enacted. However, signs of urban expansion (urbanization) and rural–urban migration (“Go West” motion) stemmed from China’s rapid economic growth and labour demand are evident; escalating industrialization (even with cleaner means) and the urban population growth in East China resulted in stronger emissions from sources representing consumption and transportation which are strongly related to NO2 and PM10 pollution (rather than SO2) and are directly influenced by the population size. This resulted to a shift of the emissions from the east mainly to the north and northwest of East China. Overall, although the effectiveness of the Chinese environmental control policies has been successful, the air pollution problem remains an important concern.

Original languageEnglish
Article number323
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


  • Air pollution control measures
  • China
  • Emission sources
  • Nitrogen oxides
  • OMI
  • Sulphur dioxide


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