Nepal Ambient Monitoring and Source Testing Experiment (NAMaSTE): Emissions of particulate matter and sulfur dioxide from vehicles and brick kilns and their impacts on air quality in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

Min Zhong, Eri Saikawa, Alexander Avramov, Chen Chen, Boya Sun, Wenlu Ye, William C. Keene, Robert J. Yokelson, Thilina Jayarathne, Elizabeth A. Stone, Maheswar Rupakheti, Arnico K. Panday

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Air pollution is one of the most pressing environmental issues in the Kathmandu Valley, where the capital city of Nepal is located. We estimated emissions from two of the major source types in the valley (vehicles and brick kilns) and analyzed the corresponding impacts on regional air quality. First, we estimated the on-road vehicle emissions in the valley using the International Vehicle Emissions (IVE) model with local emissions factors and the latest available data for vehicle registration. We also identified the locations of the brick kilns in the Kathmandu Valley and developed an emissions inventory for these kilns using emissions factors measured during the Nepal Ambient Monitoring and Source Testing Experiment (NAMaSTE) field campaign in April 2015. Our results indicate that the commonly used global emissions inventory, the Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollution (HTAP_v2.2), underestimates particulate matter emissions from vehicles in the Kathmandu Valley by a factor greater than 100. HTAP_v2.2 does not include the brick sector and we found that our sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions estimates from brick kilns are comparable to 70 % of the total SO2 emissions considered in HTAP_v2.2. Next, we simulated air quality using the Weather Research and Forecasting model coupled with Chemistry (WRF-Chem) for April 2015 based on three different emissions scenarios: HTAP only, HTAP with updated vehicle emissions, and HTAP with both updated vehicle and brick kilns emissions. Comparisons between simulated results and observations indicate that the model underestimates observed surface elemental carbon (EC) and SO2 concentrations under all emissions scenarios. However, our updated estimates of vehicle emissions significantly reduced model bias for EC, while updated emissions from brick kilns improved model performance in simulating SO2. These results highlight the importance of improving local emissions estimates for air quality modeling. We further find that model overestimation of surface wind leads to underestimated air pollutant concentrations in the Kathmandu Valley. Future work should focus on improving local emissions estimates for other major and underrepresented sources (e.g., crop residue burning and garbage burning) with a high spatial resolution, as well as the model's boundary layer representation, to capture strong spatial gradients of air pollutant concentrations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8209-8228
Number of pages20
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Volume19
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 24 2019

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