Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2021-1100
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2021-1100

  07 Jan 2022

07 Jan 2022

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Black carbon aerosol reductions during COVID-19 confinement quantified by aircraft measurements over Europe

Ovid Oktavian Krüger1, Bruna A. Holanda1, Sourangsu Chowdhury2, Andrea Pozzer2, David Walter1, Christopher Pöhlker1, Maria Dolores Andrés Hernández3, John Phillip Burrows3, Christiane Voigt4,5, Jos Lelieveld2, Johannes Quaas6, Ulrich Pöschl1, and Mira L. Pöhlker1,6,7 Ovid Oktavian Krüger et al.
  • 1Multiphase Chemistry Department, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, 55128 Mainz, Germany
  • 2Atmospheric Chemistry Department, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, 55128 Mainz, Germany
  • 3Institute of Environmental Physics, University of Bremen, 28359 Bremen, Germany
  • 4Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Johannes Gutenberg University, 55128 Mainz, Germany
  • 5Institute of Atmospheric Physics, German Aerospace Center (DLR), 82234 Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
  • 6Faculty of Physics and Earth Sciences, Leipzig Institute for Meteorology, University of Leipzig, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
  • 7Experimental Aerosol and Cloud Microphysics Department, Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research, 04318 Leipzig, Germany

Abstract. The abrupt reduction in human activities during the first lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented atmospheric conditions. To quantify the changes in lower tropospheric air pollution, we conducted the BLUESKY aircraft campaign and measured vertical profiles of black carbon (BC) aerosol particles over Western and Southern Europe in May and June 2020. We compared the results to similar measurements of the EMeRGe EU campaign performed in July 2017 and found that the BC mass concentrations (MBC) were reduced by about 47 %. For BC particle number concentrations, we found comparable reductions. Based on EMAC chemistry-transport model simulations, we find differences in meteorological conditions and flight patterns responsible for about 7 % of the reductions in MBC, whereas 40 % can be attributed to reduced anthropogenic emissions. Our results reflect the strong and immediate positive effect of changes in human activities on air quality and the atmospheric role of BC aerosols as a major air pollutant and climate forcing agent in the Anthropocene.

Ovid Oktavian Krüger et al.

Status: open (until 17 Feb 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2021-1100', Anonymous Referee #1, 17 Jan 2022 reply

Ovid Oktavian Krüger et al.

Ovid Oktavian Krüger et al.

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Short summary
The abrupt reduction in human activities during the first COVID-19 lockdown created unprecedented atmospheric conditions. We took the opportunity to quantify changes in black carbon (BC) as a major anthropogenic air pollutant. Therefore, we measured BC onboard a research aircraft over Europe during the lockdown and compared the results to measurements from 2017. With model simulations we account for different weather conditions and find a lockdown-related decrease in BC of 40 %.
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