Observed decreases in on-road CO 2 concentrations in Beijing during COVID-19 restrictions

Liu, Di; Sun, Wanqi; Zeng, Ning; Han, Pengfei; Yao, Bo; Liu, Zhiqiang; Wang, Pucai; Zheng, Ke; Mei, Han; Cai, Qixiang

To prevent the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic, restrictions such as “lockdowns” were conducted globally, which led to a significant reduction in fossil fuel emissions, especially in urban areas. However, COinline-formula2 concentrations in urban areas are affected by many factors, such as weather, biological sinks and background COinline-formula2 fluctuations. Thus, it is difficult to directly observe the COinline-formula2 reductions from sparse ground observations. Here, we focus on urban ground transportation emissions, which were dramatically affected by the restrictions, to determine the reduction signals. We conducted six series of on-road COinline-formula2 observations in Beijing using mobile platforms before (BC), during (DC) and after (AC) the implementation of COVID-19 restrictions. To reduce the impacts of weather conditions and background fluctuations, we analyze vehicle trips with the most similar weather conditions possible and calculated the enhancement metric, which is the difference between the on-road COinline-formula2 concentration and the “urban background” COinline-formula2 concentration measured at the tower of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP), Chinese Academy of Sciences. The results showed that the DC COinline-formula2 enhancement was decreased by 41 (inline-formula±1.3) parts per million (ppm) and 26 (inline-formula±6.2) ppm compared to those for the BC and AC trips, respectively. Detailed analysis showed that, during COVID-19 restrictions, there was no difference between weekdays and weekends during working hours (09:00–17:00 local standard time; LST). The enhancements during rush hours (07:00–09:00 and 17:00–20:00 LST) were almost twice those during working hours, indicating that emissions during rush hours were much higher. For DC and BC, the enhancement reductions during rush hours were much larger than those during working hours. Our findings showed a clear COinline-formula2 concentration decrease during COVID-19 restrictions, which is consistent with the COinline-formula2 emissions reductions due to the pandemic. The enhancement method used in this study is an effective method to reduce the impacts of weather and background fluctuations. Low-cost sensors, which are inexpensive and convenient, could play an important role in further on-road and other urban observations.

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Liu, Di / Sun, Wanqi / Zeng, Ning / et al: Observed decreases in on-road CO2 concentrations in Beijing during COVID-19 restrictions. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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