Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2021-1100
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2021-1100
 
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07 Jan 2022
07 Jan 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal ACP and is expected to appear here in due course.

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: closed

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
  • RC2: 'Comment on acp-2021-1100', Anonymous Referee #2, 07 Feb 2022
  • AC1: 'Comment on acp-2021-1100', Ovid O. Krüger, 22 Apr 2022

Status: closed

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
  • RC2: 'Comment on acp-2021-1100', Anonymous Referee #2, 07 Feb 2022
  • AC1: 'Comment on acp-2021-1100', Ovid O. Krüger, 22 Apr 2022

Ovid Oktavian Krüger et al.

Ovid Oktavian Krüger et al.

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Executive editor
Krüger et al. present observations of the effect of the COVID-19 lockdowns on black carbon emissions using a combination of airborne in situ observations and models. The impact of lockdowns on emissions from transport is by now well established, however the majority of studies to date have focused on NO2 as this is a regulated pollutant and high resolution observations are available in new satellite data products. This work instead uses a state-of-the-art airborne facility (DLR HALO) to report data on black carbon, which has established impacts both as a airborne pollutant damaging to human health, and as a highly potent short-lived climate forcing agent. Data from during the European lockdown period is compared with the prior EMeRGe campaign (https://acp.copernicus.org/articles/special_issue1074.html). The authors found a decrease in BC concentrations of 48% over Western and Southern Europe, of which 7% was likely due to meteorological differences during the two campaigns and 3-9% was due to a long-term downward trend, leading them to conclude that the lockdowns were overall responsible for a reduction in ambient concentrations of 32-38%. By seizing this unique opportunity, this study offers a new and unparalleled insight into the current nature of black carbon emissions from Europe. It also demonstrates how airborne in situ measurements and models can be used in combination to study the emission and transport of pollutants in the troposphere.
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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