Articles | Volume 22, issue 21
Research article
08 Nov 2022
Research article |  | 08 Nov 2022

COVID-19 lockdown emission reductions have the potential to explain over half of the coincident increase in global atmospheric methane

David S. Stevenson, Richard G. Derwent, Oliver Wild, and William J. Collins

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Cited articles

Bauwens, M., Compernolle, S., Stavrakou, T., Müller, J.-F., van Gent, J., Eskes, H., Levelt, P. F., van der A, R., Veefkind, J. P., Vlietinck, J., Yu, H., and Zehner, C.: Impact of coronavirus outbreak on NO2 pollution assessed using TROPOMI and OMI observations, Geophys. Res. Lett., 47, e2020GL087978,, 2020. 
Cooper, M. J., Martin, R. V., Hammer, M. S., Levelt, P. F., Veefkind, P., Lamsal, L. N., Krotkov, N. A., Brook, J. R., and McLinden, C. A.: Global fine-scale changes in ambient NO2 during COVID-19 lockdowns, Nature, 601, 380–387,, 2022. 
Derwent, R. G., Collins, W. J., Johnson, C. E., and Stevenson, D. S.: Transient Behaviour of Tropospheric Ozone Precursors in a Global 3-D CTM and Their Indirect Greenhouse Effects, Clim. Change, 49, 463–487,, 2001. 
Dlugokencky, E.: NOAA/GML Trends in Atmospheric Methane,, last access: 16 September 2022. 
Doumbia, T., Granier, C., Elguindi, N., Bouarar, I., Darras, S., Brasseur, G., Gaubert, B., Liu, Y., Shi, X., Stavrakou, T., Tilmes, S., Lacey, F., Deroubaix, A., and Wang, T.: Changes in global air pollutant emissions during the COVID-19 pandemic: a dataset for atmospheric modeling, Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 13, 4191–4206,, 2021. 
Short summary
Atmospheric methane’s growth rate rose by 50 % in 2020 relative to 2019. Lower nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions tend to increase methane’s atmospheric residence time; lower carbon monoxide (CO) and non-methane volatile organic compound (NMVOC) emissions decrease its lifetime. Combining model sensitivities with emission changes, we find that COVID-19 lockdown emission reductions can explain over half the observed increases in methane in 2020.
Final-revised paper