Quantifying the emission changes and associated air quality impacts during the COVID-19 pandemic on the North China Plain: a response modeling study

Xing, Jia; Li, Siwei; Jiang, Yueqi; Wang, Shuxiao; Ding, Dian; Dong, Zhaoxin; Zhu, Yun; Hao, Jiming

Quantification of emission changes is a prerequisite for the assessment of control effectiveness in improving air quality. However, the traditional bottom-up method for characterizing emissions requires detailed investigation of emissions data (e.g., activity and other emission parameters) that usually takes months to perform and limits timely assessments. Here we propose a novel method to address this issue by using a response model that provides real-time estimation of emission changes based on air quality observations in combination with emission-concentration response functions derived from chemical transport modeling. We applied the new method to quantify the emission changes on the North China Plain (NCP) due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, which overlapped the Spring Festival (also known as Chinese New Year) holiday. Results suggest that the anthropogenic emissions of inline-formulaNO2, inline-formulaSO2, volatile organic compound (VOC) and primary PMinline-formula2.5 on the NCP were reduced by 51 %, 28 %, 67 % and 63 %, respectively, due to the COVID-19 shutdown, indicating longer and stronger shutdown effects in 2020 compared to the previous Spring Festival holiday. The reductions of VOC and primary PMinline-formula2.5 emissions are generally effective in reducing inline-formulaO3 and PMinline-formula2.5 concentrations. However, such air quality improvements are largely offset by reductions in inline-formulaNOx emissions. inline-formulaNOx emission reductions lead to increases in inline-formulaO3 and PMinline-formula2.5 concentrations on the NCP due to the strongly VOC-limited conditions in winter. A strong inline-formulaNH3-rich condition is also suggested from the air quality response to the substantial inline-formulaNOx emission reduction. Well-designed control strategies are recommended based on the air quality response associated with the unexpected emission changes during the COVID-19 period. In addition, our results demonstrate that the new response-based inversion model can well capture emission changes based on variations in ambient concentrations and thereby illustrate the great potential for improving the accuracy and efficiency of bottom-up emission inventory methods.



Xing, Jia / Li, Siwei / Jiang, Yueqi / et al: Quantifying the emission changes and associated air quality impacts during the COVID-19 pandemic on the North China Plain: a response modeling study. 2020. Copernicus Publications.


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