Dramatic decline of observed atmospheric CO2 and CH4 during the COVID-19 lockdown over the Yangtze River Delta of China

Jason Blake Cohen , Miao Liang , Yong Zhang , Qianli Ma , Dajiang Yu , Xiaojian Chen


Received June 07, 2021,Revised , Accepted September 26, 2021, Available online October 04, 2021

Volume 35,2023,Pages 712-722

The temporal variation of greenhouse gas concentrations in China during the COVID-19 lockdown in China is analyzed in this work using high resolution measurements of near surface △CO2, △CH4 and △CO concentrations above the background conditions at Lin'an station (LAN), a regional background station in the Yangtze River Delta region. During the pre-lockdown observational period (IOP-1), both △CO2 and △CH4 exhibited a significant increasing trend relative to the 2011-2019 climatological mean. The reduction of △CO2, △CH4 and △CO during the lockdown observational period (IOP-2) (which also coincided with the Chinese New Year Holiday) reached up to 15.0 ppm, 14.2 ppb and 146.8 ppb, respectively, and a reduction of △CO2/△CO probably due to a dramatic reduction from industrial emissions. △CO2, △CH4 and △CO were observed to keep declining during the post-lockdown easing phase (IOP-3), which is the synthetic result of lower than normal CO2 emissions from rural regions around LAN coupled with strong uptake of the terrestrial ecosystem. Interestingly, the trend reversed to gradual increase for all species during the later easing phase (IOP-4), with △CO2/△CO constantly increasing from IOP-2 to IOP-3 and finally IOP-4, consistent with recovery in industrial emissions associated with the staged resumption of economic activity. On average, △CO2 declined sharply throughout the days during IOP-2 but increased gradually throughout the days during IOP-4. The findings showcase the significant role of emission reduction in accounting for the dramatic changes in measured atmospheric △CO2 and △CH4 associated with the COVID-19 lockdown and recovery.

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