Air quality changes during the COVID-19 lockdown over the Yangtze River Delta Region: An insight into the impact of human activity pattern changes on air pollution variation
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The outbreak of COVID-19 has spreaded rapidly across the world. To control the rapid dispersion of the virus, China has imposed national lockdown policies to practise social distancing. This has led to reduced human activities and hence primary air pollutant emissions, which caused improvement of air quality as a side-product. To investigate the air quality changes during the COVID-19 lockdown over the YRD Region, we apply the WRFCAMx modelling system together with monitoring data to investigate the impact of human activity pattern changes on air quality. Results show that human activities were lowered significantly during the period: industrial operations, VKT, constructions in operation, etc. were significantly reduced, leading to lowered SO2, NOx, PM2.5 and VOCs emissions by approximately 16–26%, 29–47%, 27–46% and 37–57% during the Level I and Level II response periods respectively. These emission reduction has played a significant role in the improvement of air quality. Concentrations of PM2.5, NO2 and SO2 decreased by 31.8%, 45.1% and 20.4% during the Level I period; and 33.2%, 27.2% and 7.6% during the Level II period compared with 2019. However, ozone did not show any reduction and increased greatly. Our results also show that even during the lockdown, with primary emissions reduction of 15%–61%, the daily average PM2.5 concentrations range between 15 and 79 μg m−3 , which shows that background and residual pollutions are still high. Source apportionment results indicate that the residual pollution of PM2.5 comes from industry (32.2–61.1%), mobile (3.9–8.1%), dust (2.6–7.7%), residential sources (2.1–28.5%) in YRD and 14.0–28.6% contribution from long-range transport coming from northern China. This indicates that in spite of the extreme reductions in primary emissions, it cannot fully tackle the current air pollution. Re-organisation of the energy and industrial strategy together with trans-regional joint-control for a full longterm air pollution plan need to be further taken into account.
Link to resourcehttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.139282
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