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In 2014, China and the United States were the world’s largest emitters of energy-related carbon dioxide (statista.com, 2015), but while China continues to industrialize rapidly, the U.S. is actively trying to reduce its impact on air pollution. Previous studies have shown the transport of anthropogenic aerosols originating from China across the Pacific Ocean, creating challenges for the emissions reductions policies of national governments such as the U.S. These studies used models to estimate the impact of Chinese aerosols on the air quality of the U.S., and few have used ground measurements of pollutant concentrations in the U.S. to validate these estimates. To confirm the transportation of aerosols from Chinese coal-fired power plants across the Pacific Ocean to the U.S. during the spring of 2012, I use both satellite imagery and data of aerosol optical depth from NASA’s MODIS Terra satellite and ground measurements of sulfur dioxide concentrations from EPA’s Air Quality System database. A maximum daily sulfur dioxide contribution of 18.3-50.2% from China to the U.S. is found for March-May 2012. Although this figure likely overestimates China’s impact due to confounding factors such as emissions from U.S. coal-fired power plants and biogenic marine sources of sulfur dioxide, a correlation between emissions from China and U.S. air quality is established.
Jong, Ariane, "How Much of Our Pollution is OUR Pollution?: The Transport of Anthropogenic Aerosols Across the Pacific Ocean from China to the United States" (2015). Student Research Day Abstracts and Posters. 93.