huge news – china begins hourly air quality reporting

Wow, HUGE news today regarding air quality reporting in China: China’s National Environmental Monitoring Center has begun reporting hourly air quality data at over 2,000 individual monitoring stations in 113 cities in China. This represents a major development towards information transparency in China, and a key step towards providing residents here with the type of real-time air quality data they need to make healthy decisions regarding personal exposure. The release of this data will also pave the way for vast amounts of future research into the nature of air pollution in China.

In addition to providing data, the site is an extremely valuable resource for general information about China’s air quality, including air quality standards, definition of Air Pollution Index, impacts from air pollutants, main sources, etc. In many ways, the site is a like a very primitive version of the US EPA’s air quality public outreach site, www.airnow.gov. After what has seemed like a frustrating year for air quality in China, this is a wonderful development for which China deserves great credit.

The main address for the site is http://58.68.130.147/air/, with the actual data accessible at http://58.68.130.147/air/air/airtestpage.html. The site is currently exclusively in Chinese, and is developed in Silverlight, which is apparently a Microsoft version of Flash. (I had to download it from Microsoft’s website before I could view the site.) Because of the way the site is structured, it seems impossible to link to individual pages or copy/download data. This is an annoying and frustrating flaw in my opinion, but I’ll take what I can get for now.

I’m sure I will have many, many more posts about this new site and the treasure trove of data that’s available there. For now, though, let me just show a couple of examples of the type of information available:

This chart shows hourly concentrations of SO2, NO2, and PM10 from 7am this morning to noon at the Dongsi monitoring station in downtown Beijing:

dongsi real-time
This graph shows the hourly PM10 concentrations at that same individual station over the last 48 hours. The red line represents China’s daily air quality standard. The green line shows the previous day’s average.

pm10 real-time
Again, much more analysis to come, but for now my lunch break’s over and I need to get back to my day job. I’m happy to be bringing this positive report for a change, and look forward to providing more analysis and translation in the near future. In the comments section below, please feel free to ask specific questions about this new service and I’ll do my best to answer them.

4 Responses to “huge news – china begins hourly air quality reporting”

  1. Great news — but I’m having trouble with the website; I can’t click on the map to see individual test sites, nothing happens. I’ve tried a couple browsers and same thing — anyone else having troubles on the tech side?

    It will be really interesting to compare US Embassy data with nearby Beijing EPA monitors such as the Agricultural Exhibition Center just down the street from it…

  2. Vance says:

    Dr. Saint Cyr,

    The maps are really difficult to navigate. The hardest part is clicking on Beijing on the full China map. You really have to click closer to Tianjin to get it to zoom in on Beijing. Once you have zoomed in on Beijing, you can zoom in further on the city itself to see the 8 monitoring stations in the city center.

    FYI, I’m using Firefox.

    Vance

  3. Louie Cheng says:

    Vance,

    Since I’m a data geek (and I think you are too), do you think you could refresh your PM 2.5 and PM10 overlay graph for the same 2-day time period now that hourly data is available for both? I’d like to see if this matches (correlated movement) even though the sampling stations are in different locations. I also would like to see how much of the PM10 mass concentration is made up of PM2.5. I think by the book there is an estimate, but real-world numbers would be more meaningful.

    If you want to send me the data, I can work up the graphs — just too much of a non-techie to pull the data off the right sites!

  4. Vance says:

    Louie,

    I definitely plan to do overlays exactly like you are suggesting. Just need to find the time to crunch the numbers and write the post!

    The PM2.5/PM10 ratio is a very interesting research question. It varies a lot from day to day and from region to region, but I’ve seen data suggesting it’s in the range of 70-90% in Beijing.

    Vance

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