Research ArticleCORONAVIRUS

Global tropospheric ozone responses to reduced NOx emissions linked to the COVID-19 worldwide lockdowns

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Science Advances  09 Jun 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 24, eabf7460
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abf7460

Abstract

Efforts to stem the transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) led to rapid, global ancillary reductions in air pollutant emissions. Here, we quantify the impact on tropospheric ozone using a multiconstituent chemical data assimilation system. Anthropogenic NOx emissions dropped by at least 15% globally and 18 to 25% regionally in April and May 2020, which decreased free tropospheric ozone by up to 5 parts per billion, consistent with independent satellite observations. The global total tropospheric ozone burden declined by 6TgO3 (∼2%) in May and June 2020, largely due to emission reductions in Asia and the Americas that were amplified by regionally high ozone production efficiencies (up to 4 TgO3/TgN). Our results show that COVID-19 mitigation left a global atmospheric imprint that altered atmospheric oxidative capacity and climate radiative forcing, providing a test of the efficacy of NOx emissions controls for co-benefiting air quality and climate.

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