Aerosol haze pollution has had a significant impact on both global climate and the regional air quality of Eastern China, which has a high proportion of high level pollution days. Statistical analyses of aerosol optical properties and direct radiative forcing at two AERONET sites (Beijing and Xuzhou) were conducted from 2013 to 2016. Results indicate: (1) Haze pollution days accounted for 26% and 20% of days from 2013 to 2016 in Beijing and Xuzhou, respectively, with the highest proportions in winter; (2) The averaged aerosol optical depth (AOD) at 550 nm on haze days were about 3.7 and 1.6 times greater than those on clean days in Beijing and Xuzhou, respectively. At both sites, the maximum AOD occurred in summer; (3) Hazes were dominated by fine particles at both sites. However, as compared to Xuzhou, Beijing had larger coarse mode AOD and higher percentage of small α. This data, together with an analysis of size distribution, suggests that the hazes in Beijing were more susceptible to coarse dust particles than Xuzhou; (4) During hazes in Beijing, the single scattering albedo (SSA) is significantly higher when compared to clean conditions (0.874 vs. 0.843 in SSA440 nm
), an increase much less evident in Xuzhou. The most noticeable differences in both SSA and the imaginary part of the complex refractive index between Beijing and Xuzhou were found in winter; (5) In Beijing, the haze radiative forcing produced an averaged cooling effect of −113.6 ± 63.7 W/m2
at the surface, whereas the averaged heating effect of 77.5 ± 49.7 W/m2
within the atmosphere was at least twice as strong as clean days. In Xuzhou, such a radiative forcing effect appeared to be much smaller and the difference between haze and clean days was insignificant. Derived from long-term observation, these findings are more significant for the improvement of our understanding of haze formation in China and the assessment of its impacts on radiative forcing of climate change than previous short-term case studies.
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