Importance of meteorology in air pollution events during the city lockdown for COVID-19 in Hubei Province, Central China.

Affiliation

Shen L(1), Zhao T(2), Wang H(3), Liu J(4), Bai Y(5), Kong S(6), Zheng H(6), Zhu Y(1), Shu Z(1).
Author information:
(1)Collaborative Innovation Center on Forecast and Evaluation of Meteorological Disasters, Key Laboratory for Aerosol-Cloud-Precipitation of the China Meteorological Administration, PREMIC, Nanjing University of Information Science &Technology, Nanjing 210044, China.
(2)Collaborative Innovation Center on Forecast and Evaluation of Meteorological Disasters, Key Laboratory for Aerosol-Cloud-Precipitation of the China Meteorological Administration, PREMIC, Nanjing University of Information Science &Technology, Nanjing 210044, China. Electronic address: [Email]
(3)Collaborative Innovation Center on Forecast and Evaluation of Meteorological Disasters, Key Laboratory for Aerosol-Cloud-Precipitation of the China Meteorological Administration, PREMIC, Nanjing University of Information Science &Technology, Nanjing 210044, China. Electronic address: [Email]
(4)Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S3G3, Canada.
(5)Institute of Heavy Rain, China Meteorological Administration, Wuhan 430205, China.
(6)Department of Atmospheric Sciences, School of Environmental Studies, China University of Geosciences
(Wuhan), Wuhan 430074, China.

Abstract

Compared with the 21-year climatological mean over the same period during 2000-2020, the aerosol optical depth (AOD) and Angstrom exponent (AE) during the COVID-19 lockdown (January 24-February 29, 2020) decreased and increased, respectively, in most regions of Central-Eastern China (CEC). The AOD (AE) values decreased (increased) by 39.2% (29.4%) and 31.0% (45.3%) in Hubei and Wuhan, respectively, because of the rigorous restrictions. These inverse changes reflected the reduction of total aerosols in the air and the contribution of the increase in fine-mode particles during the lockdown. The surface PM2.5 had a distinct spatial distribution over CEC during the lockdown, with high concentrations in North China and East China. In particular, relatively high PM2.5 concentrations were notable in the lower flatlands of Hubei Province in Central China, where six PM2.5 pollution events were identified during the lockdown. Using the observation data and model simulations, we found that 50% of the pollution episodes were associated with the long-range transport of air pollutants from upstream CEC source regions, which then converged in the downstream Hubei receptor region. However, local pollution was dominant for the remaining episodes because of stagnant meteorological conditions. The long-range transport of air pollutants substantially contributed to PM2.5 pollution in Hubei, reflecting the exceptional importance of meteorology in regional air quality in China.