07 Oct 2021

07 Oct 2021

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

Ozone pollution during the COVID-19 lockdown in the spring 2020 over Europe analysed from satellite observations, in situ measurements and models

Juan Cuesta1, Lorenzo Costantino2, Matthias Beekmann3, Guillaume Siour1, Laurent Menut4, Bertrand Bessagnet4,a, Tony C. Landi5, Gaëlle Dufour3, and Maxim Eremenko1 Juan Cuesta et al.
  • 1Univ Paris Est Creteil and Université de Paris, CNRS, LISA, F-94010 Créteil, France
  • 2Centre For Research On Energy And Clean Air (CREA), Hiihtomaentie 38 B 24 00800 Helsinki, Finland
  • 3Université de Paris and Univ Paris Est Creteil, CNRS, LISA, F-75013 Paris, France
  • 4Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique (LMD), Ecole Polytechnique, IPSL Research University, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Université Paris-Saclay, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Univ Paris 06, CNRS, Route de Saclay, 91128 Palaiseau, France
  • 5Via Fermi 2749, Ispra, ItalyNational Research Council, Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (ISAC-CNR), via Gobetti 101, 40129, Bologna, Italy
  • anow at: European Commision, Joint Research Centre, Via Fermi 2749, Ispra, Italy

Abstract. We present a comprehensive study integrating satellite observations of ozone pollution, in situ measurements and chemistry transport model simulations for quantifying the role of anthropogenic emission reductions during the COVID-19 lockdown in spring 2020 over Europe. Satellite observations are derived from the IASI+GOME2 multispectral synergism, which provides particularly enhanced sensitivity to near-surface ozone pollution. These observations are first analysed in terms of differences between the average on 1–15 April 2020, when the strictest lockdown restrictions took place, and the same period in 2019. They show clear enhancements of near-surface ozone in Central Europe and Northern Italy, and some other hotspots, which are typically characterized by VOC-limited chemical regimes. An overall reduction of ozone is observed elsewhere, where ozone chemistry is limited by the abundance of NOx. The spatial distribution of positive and negative ozone concentration anomalies observed from space is in relatively good quantitative agreement with surface in situ measurements over the continent (a correlation coefficient of 0.55, a root-mean-squared difference of 11 ppb and the same standard deviation and range of variability). An average bias of ∼8 ppb between the two observational datasets is remarked, which can partly be explained by the fact the satellite approach retrieves partial columns of ozone with a peak sensitivity above the surface (near 2 km of altitude).

For assessing the impact of the reduction of anthropogenic emissions during the lockdown, we adjust the satellite and in situ surface observations for withdrawing the influence of meteorological conditions in 2020 and 2019. This adjustment is derived from the chemistry transport model simulations using the meteorological fields of each year and identical emission inventories. This observational estimate of the influence of lockdown emission reduction is consistent for both datasets. They both show lockdown-associated ozone enhancements in hotspots over Central Europe and Northern Italy, with a reduced amplitude with respect to the total changes observed between the two years, and an overall reduction elsewhere over Europe and the ocean. Satellite observations additionally highlight the ozone anomalies in the regions remote from in situ sensors, an enhancement over the Mediterranean likely associated with maritime traffic emissions and a marked large-scale reduction of ozone elsewhere over ocean (particularly over the North Sea), in consistency with previous assessments done with ozonesondes measurements in the free troposphere.

These observational assessments are compared with model-only estimations, using the CHIMERE chemistry transport model. For analysing the uncertainty of the model estimates, we perform two sets of simulations with different setups, differing in the emission inventories, their modifications to account for changes in anthropogenic activities during the lockdown and the meteorological fields. Whereas a general qualitative consistency of positive and negative ozone anomalies is remarked between all model and observational estimates, significant changes are seen in their amplitudes. Models underestimate the range of variability of the ozone changes by at least a factor 2 with respect to the two observational data sets, both for enhancements and decreases of ozone, while the large-scale ozone decrease is not simulated. With one of the setups, the model simulates ozone enhancements a factor 3 to 6 smaller than with the other configuration. This is partly linked to the emission inventories of ozone precursors (at least a 30 % difference), but mainly to differences in vertical mixing of atmospheric constituents depending on the choice of the meteorological model.

Juan Cuesta et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on acp-2021-785', Daniel Potts, 08 Oct 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on CC1', Juan Cuesta, 08 Oct 2021
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2021-785', Anonymous Referee #1, 14 Oct 2021
  • CC2: 'Comment on acp-2021-785', Amir Souri, 15 Oct 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on acp-2021-785', Anonymous Referee #2, 26 Oct 2021

Juan Cuesta et al.

Data sets

IASI+GOME2 multispectral satellite observations of ozone Juan Cuesta et al

Model code and software

CHIMERE chemistry transport model The CHIMERE developping team from the LMD and LISA laboratories

Juan Cuesta et al.


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Short summary
We present the first comprehensive study integrating satellite observations of near-surface ozone pollution, surface in situ measurements and a chemistry transport model for quantifying the role of anthropogenic emission reductions during the COVID-19 lockdown in spring 2020. It confirm the occurrence of a net enhancement of ozone in Central Europe and a reduction elsewhere, except for some hotspots, linked with the reduction of precursor emissions from Europe and the Northern Hemisphere.