Limited Regional Aerosol and Cloud Microphysical Changes Despite Unprecedented Decline in Nitrogen Oxide Pollution During the February 2020 COVID-19 Shutdown in China
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Limited Regional Aerosol and Cloud Microphysical Changes Despite Unprecedented Decline in Nitrogen Oxide Pollution During the February 2020 COVID-19 Shutdown in China

  • Published Date:

    2020

  • Source:
    Geophysical Research Letters, 47, e2020GL088913
Filetype[PDF-2.74 MB]


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  • Description:
    Following the emergence of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China instituted shutdown measures starting in late January and continuing into February 2020 to arrest the spread of disease. This resulted in a sharp economic contraction unparalleled in recent Chinese history. Satellite retrievals show that nitrogen dioxide pollution declined by an unprecedented amount (~50% regionally) from its expected unperturbed value, but regional-scale column aerosol loadings and cloud microphysical properties were not detectably affected. The disparate impact is tied to differential economic impacts of the shutdown, in which transportation, a disproportionate source of nitrogen oxide emissions, underwent drastic declines (~90% reductions in passenger traffic), whereas industry and power generation, responsible for >90% of particulate emissions, were relatively less affected (~20% reductions in electricity and thermal power generation). A combination of anomalously warm and humid meteorological conditions and complex chemical interactions further decreased nitrogen dioxide concentrations but likely enhanced secondary aerosol formation.
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