In this paper, the National Centers for Environmental Prediction/National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP/NCAR) monthly average reanalysis data from 1954 to 2017, haze days observation data from 1954 to 2017, and PM2.5
daily average mass concentration data from 2013 to 2017 are collected and collated. Firstly, the atmospheric apparent heat source on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is estimated based on thermodynamic equations. The correlation between the atmospheric apparent heat source (Q1
) on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the air quality in China, especially in the five typical regions (Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, Fen-Wei Plain, Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta, and Sichuan-Chongqing regions) is analyzed and studied. Through comprehensive diagnosis and synthesis, the differences of the three-dimensional spatial distribution of the circulation field and temperature field (planes and sections) in China and the typical regions in the strong and weak years of the apparent heat source Q1
on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in winter are compared, and the different distribution characteristics of the climate circulation background causing the strong and weak years of Q1
on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the influence mechanism on the air quality in different regions in China are discussed. The results show that the spatial distribution of correlation between Q1
on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and PM2.5
in December has a northeast-southwest boundary. There is a negative correlation in the southeast region of the boundary, with heavy pollution when the cold source is strong and light pollution when the cold source is weak, while there is a positive correlation in the northwest region of the boundary, with light pollution when the cold source is strong and heavy pollution when the cold source is weak. The Q1
on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is negatively correlated with air pollution in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and Fen-Wei Plain located in the northwest region of the boundary but positively correlated with air pollution in the Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta, and Sichuan-Chongqing regions located in the southeast region of the boundary. In the cold source strong year, the northerly winds are stronger in the middle and high latitudes, and there is an abnormal northerly downward flow in the southeast region, thus the pollution is aggravated by the suppression of convection–diffusion in a downward flow. However, abnormal updraft in the northwest region exists, reducing pollution. In the cold source weak year, the situation is just the opposite.