Spatial variability of trace gases (NO2, O3 and CO) over Indian region during 2020 and 2021 COVID-19 lockdowns

Environ Monit Assess. 2023 May 16;195(6):680. doi: 10.1007/s10661-023-11318-2.

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 lockdown has given us an opportunity to investigate the pollutant concentrations in response to the restricted anthropogenic activities. The atmospheric concentration levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and ozone (O3) have been analysed for the periods during the first wave of COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 (25th March-31st May 2020) and during the partial lockdowns due to second wave in 2021 (25th March-15th June 2021) across India. The trace gas measurements from Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) and Atmosphere InfraRed Sounder (AIRS) satellites have been used. An overall decrease in the concentration of O3 (5-10%) and NO2 (20-40%) have been observed during the 2020 lockdown when compared with business as usual (BAU) period in 2019, 2018 and 2017. However, the CO concentration increased up to 10-25% especially in the central-west region. O3 and NO2 slightly increased or had no change in 2021 lockdown when compared with the BAU period, but CO showed a mixed variation prominently influenced by the biomass burning/forest fire activities. The changes in trace gas levels during 2020 lockdown have been predominantly due to the reduction in the anthropogenic activities, whereas in 2021, the changes have been mostly due to natural factors like meteorology and long-range transport, as the emission levels have been similar to that of BAU. Later phases of 2021 lockdown saw the dominant effect of rainfall events resulting in washout of pollutants. This study reveals that partial or local lockdowns have very less impact on reducing pollution levels on a regional scale as natural factors like atmospheric long-range transport and meteorology play deciding roles on their concentration levels.

PMID:37191765 | PMC:PMC10185963 | DOI:10.1007/s10661-023-11318-2

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