03 May 2021

03 May 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Aerosol transport pathways and source attribution in China during the COVID-19 outbreak

Lili Ren1, Yang Yang1, Hailong Wang2, Pinya Wang1, Lei Chen1, Jia Zhu1, and Hong Liao1 Lili Ren et al.
  • 1Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Environment Monitoring and Pollution Control, Jiangsu Collaborative Innovation Center of Atmospheric Environment and Equipment Technology, School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China
  • 2Atmospheric Sciences and Global Change Division, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington, USA

Abstract. Due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, human activities and industrial productions were strictly restricted during January–March 2020 in China. Despite the fact that anthropogenic aerosol emissions largely decreased, haze events still occurred. Characterization of aerosol transport pathways and attribution of aerosol sources from specific regions are beneficial to the air quality and pandemic control strategies. This study establishes source-receptor relationships in various regions of China during the COVID-19 outbreak based on the Community Atmosphere Model version 5 with Explicit Aerosol Source Tagging (CAM5-EAST). Our analysis shows that PM2.5 burden over the North China Plain between January 30 and February 19 is largely contributed by local emissions (40–66 %). For other regions in China, PM2.5 burden is largely contributed from non-local sources. During the polluted days of COVID-19 outbreak, local emissions within North China Plain and Eastern China, respectively, contribute 66 % and 87 % to the increase in surface PM2.5 concentrations. This is associated with the anomalous mid-tropospheric high pressure at the location of climatological East Asia trough and the consequently weakened winds in the lower troposphere, leading to the local aerosol accumulation. The emissions outside China, especially from South and Southeast Asia, contribute over 50 % to the increase in PM2.5 concentration in Southwestern China through transboundary transport during the polluted day. As the reduction in emissions in the near future, aerosols from long-range transport together with unfavorable meteorological conditions are increasingly important to regional air quality and need to be taken into account in clean air plans.

Lili Ren et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2021-328', Anonymous Referee #1, 16 Jun 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on acp-2021-328', Anonymous Referee #2, 23 Jun 2021

Lili Ren et al.


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Short summary
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, human activities were strictly restricted in China. Even though anthropogenic aerosol emissions largely decreased, haze events still occurred. Our results shows that PM2.5 over the North China Plain is largely contributed by local sources. For other regions in China, PM2.5 is largely contributed from nonlocal sources. As the emission reduction in the future, aerosol long-range transport and unfavorable meteorology are increasingly important to air quality.