CHN19/3: Aerosol effects on Chinese regional climate dynamics; RG.EVEA.119934

Aerosol particles are emitted from a huge range of man-made activities, such as household burning and industry, and affect East Asian climate and people in multiple ways. For example, in winter months aerosols emitted locally are trapped by atmospheric conditions and cause significant harm to individuals (at times costing more than 3% of GDP). In future scenarios, emissions of these aerosols are expected to decline, but there is substantial uncertainty around the rates of reduction. Regional, national policy-makers will determine the rate of reduction and the associated public health savings.

The amount of rain and the intensity with which it arrives, are features of the summer monsoon, which is fundamentally important for agriculture in East Asia. These features have evolved historically in response to changes in aerosol particles, as China and the rest of the region industrialised. For example, the current generation of climate models indicate that aerosols were far more influential than greenhouse gases on precipitation (up to seven times) over several decades in the last century. Aerosols will continue to affect rainfall rates and amounts over the coming century, through their influence on clouds and circulation changes. We have identified several ways to reduce the uncertainty in near-future and end-of-century rainfall in East Asia, based on the historical performance of individual global climate models in reproducing key observed metrics. Additionally, we have used a large set of climate model simulations to evaluate the causes of East Asian climate uncertainty in the Met Office model and have identified priorities for improving model skill at making projections of climate change in this region.


Consolidated strategic partnership between UK and Chinese scientists.

Research directly informed the development of an ‘Urban China Decadal Air Quality Service’ infographic produced by Met Office colleagues. This infographic (English and Mandarin) was shared with regional governments to help plan for future extreme air quality events.

Publications and outputs

Sexton et al., 2021:

Guo et al., 2021:

Liu et al., 2021:

Zhang et al., 2021:

Shonk et al., 2020:

Wilcox et al., 2020:

Project website