• Mon
  • Dec 29, 2014
  • Updated: 2:03pm

Beijing air pollution

The Chinese capital has for many years suffered from serious air pollution. Primary sources of pollutants include exhaust emission from Beijing's more than five million motor vehicles, coal burning in neighbouring regions, dust storms from the north and local construction dust. A particularly severe smog engulfed the city for weeks in early 2013, elevating public awareness to unprecedented levels and prompting the government to roll out emergency measures. 


Beijing recruits scientists to tackle air pollution, but doesn't say how

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 December, 2013, 4:22am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 December, 2013, 8:55am

China pioneered cloud-seeding to induce rain - now it wants to use technology to clear the air.

Beijing will start experimenting with measures to disperse its notorious smog on heavily polluted days, vice-mayor Lin Keqing told a work conference yesterday, according to Xinhua.

Lin did not elaborate on the measures, but his announcement followed the release last month by the China Meteorological Administration of a document which said all provincial-level meteorological bureaus should be able to artificially reduce smog by 2015.

During the Olympic Games in 2008, Beijing fired 1,100 silver iodide rockets to disperse rain clouds on the eve of the opening ceremony. Some have proposed the same measure could help wash away the fine pollutants clogging the air on smoggy days.

But some meteorologists are not so keen on the idea.

"Weather modification to reduce smog remains a very sensitive topic … and the research is still quite limited," said a Beijing-based expert on weather modification, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Simply speaking, on some smoggy days the atmospheric conditions may not be suitable for cloud-seeding." He explained that on heavily polluted days there were simply too many particles in the air to make cloud-seeding effective.

Science and Technology Daily, an official newspaper under the Ministry of Science and Technology, reported last week that scientists had yet to find truly effective measures to reduce smog.

Guo Xueliang, of the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, told the newspaper that the two possible methods undergoing trials - cloud seeding and artificial fog removal - could only prove effective when conditions were right. Guo did not explain what artificial fog removal entailed.

The vice-mayor also said more than half of the city's 20 national-level meteorological observatories had suffered damage, five of which had been forced to relocate, and the city's two meteorological radar systems had been affected by high-rise buildings nearby.

Beijing will add more than 200 automatic observatories and eight meteorological radar systems by 2015 to enhance the accuracy of the capital's weather forecasts, Xinhua reported.


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This article is now closed to comments

You don't need to recruit scientists or open 200 more observatories . Just shut down the automobile manufacturing industry, get rid of the gridlocked cars and go back to trains, buses and bicycles. All will progressively improve
Stop burning coal. You're welcome China. Now pay my consulting fee.
Ban impractical solutions including those advocated in this article and the two proposed by superdx and captam. Implement what has worked in all of the OECD countries. Practice humility.
Since no direction is given except urging nation’s scientists to tackle the pollution, I would guess that no policy has been effective and the situation is desperate.
Scientists if to take on the call, I will suggest to concentrate on fuel quality. Fuel used by vehicles is the major cause of air pollution in cities. It is necessary to obtain improved oil / gas that will have much less harmful emission than the present when cars run below 40 km per hour. The less of the speed and the more frequent of stop and go of cars which characterize traffics in Beijing City they are all using fuel most inefficiently and hence maximizing the production of polluted car exhaust.
While the car culture can’t be stopped, China must do something about the fuel and improve its quality. Unfortunately clean air can't be had tomorrow as research takes time.
Here in the interim, I will suggest to Beijing City government to take action that will bring about clean air sooner. In my recent talk that I gave I suggested that Beijing should introduce more coach buses as transportation means in rush hours. One coach bus that sits 70 passengers will eliminate 70 cars. On a six-lane road if two car lanes are replaced with coaches, reserving three lanes for cars and one for regular bus, all travelling at 40km/hour, we can transport from 15 passengers per second to become to 83. It is a 5.5 times improvement.
The implementation of coach for car, for private car users to switch to coach predicated that it is a choice and not by ineffective regulations. The choice should be attractive. Comfortable seats and no crowding like in a typical regular bus should be the standard condition. Besides of comfort, the choice for coach is inevitable – the speed getting to work and back home is improved from the current at 15km per hour to become 40km per hour. It is a saving of time by 2.66 times. A two-hour travel will cut down to 45 minutes.
Choice is better than regulations.
At 20km per hour travelling on local roads, it is estimated that the very few access roads that subject to absorb traffics dislodge from Ring Roads, 40km per hour traffic will saturate the local roads in just 9 seconds. After the first 9 seconds cars on local roads will eventually traveling bumper to bumper crawling along. In fact, the Ring Roads would eventually render inoperable with backup traffics that cars are unable to enter into the blocked standard road area.
I propose that garages should be erected above Ring Roads at all exits. Regular transportation would transport people after leaving their cars in the garage. The local roads would not be subjected to undue traffic load from afar. The separation idea will take capital and time but it will make local roads not subject to influx of tremendous traffics from afar.
It is a longer term endeavor but worth to pursuit it.


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