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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  22 Jul 2020

22 Jul 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Time-resolved emission reductions for atmospheric chemistry modelling in Europe during the COVID-19 lockdowns

Marc Guevara1, Oriol Jorba1, Albert Soret1, Hervé Petetin1, Dene Bowdalo1, Kim Serradell1, Carles Tena1, Hugo Denier van der Gon2, Jeroen Kuenen2, Vincent-Henri Peuch3, and Carlos Pérez García-Pando1,4 Marc Guevara et al.
  • 1Earth Sciences Department, Barcelona Supercomputing Center, Barcelona, 08034, Spain
  • 2TNO, Department of Climate, Air and Sustainability, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 3European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Reading, UK
  • 4ICREA, Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies, 08010 Barcelona, Spain

Abstract. We quantify the reductions in primary emissions due to the COVID-19 lockdowns in Europe. Our estimates are provided in the form of a dataset of reduction factors varying per country and day that will allow modelling and identifying the associated impacts upon air quality. The country- and daily-resolved reduction factors are provided for each of the following source categories: energy industry (power plants), manufacturing industry, road traffic and aviation (landing and take-off cycle). We computed the reduction factors based on open access and near-real time measured activity data from a wide range of information sources. We also trained a machine learning model with meteorological data to derive weather-normalised electricity consumption reductions. The time period covered is from 21 February, when the first European localised lockdown was implemented in the region of Lombardy (Italy), until 26 April 2020. This period includes five weeks (23 March until 26 April) with the most severe and relatively unchanged restrictions upon mobility and socio-economic activities across Europe. The computed reduction factors were combined with the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service's European emission inventory using adjusted emission temporal profiles in order to derive time-resolved emission reductions per country and pollutant sector. During the most severe lockdown period, we estimate the average emission reductions to be −33 % for NOx, −8 % for NMVOC, −7 % for SOx and −7 % for PM2.5 at the EU-30 level (EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland). For all pollutants more than 85 % of the total reduction is attributable to road transport, except SOx. The reductions reached −50 % (NOx), −14 % (NMVOC), −12 % (SOx) and −15 % (PM2.5) in countries where the lockdown restrictions were more severe such as Italy, France or Spain. To show the potential for air quality modelling we simulated and evaluated NO2 concentration decreases in rural and urban background regions across Europe (Italy, Spain, France, Germany, United-Kingdom and Sweden). We found the lockdown measures to be responsible for NO2 reductions of up to −58 % at urban background locations (Madrid, Spain) and −44 % at rural background areas (France), with an average contribution of the traffic sector to total reductions of 86 % and 93 %, respectively. A clear improvement of the modelled results was found when considering the emission reduction factors, especially in Madrid, Paris and London where the bias is reduced with more than 90 %. Future updates will include the extension of the COVID-19 lockdown period covered, the addition of other pollutant sectors potentially affected by the restrictions (commercial/residential combustion and shipping) and the evaluation of other air quality pollutants such as O3 and PM2.5. All the emission reduction factors are provided in the supplementary material.

Marc Guevara et al.

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Marc Guevara et al.

Marc Guevara et al.


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Latest update: 29 Sep 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Most European countries have imposed lockdowns to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Such a socioeconomic disruption has resulted in a sudden drop of atmospheric emissions and air pollution levels. This study quantifies the daily reductions in national emissions and associated levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) due to the COVID-19 lockdowns in Europe, by making use of multiple open access measured activity data as well as artificial intelligence and modelling techniques.
Most European countries have imposed lockdowns to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic....