Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Journal articles

Ozone pollution during the COVID-19 lockdown in the spring of 2020 over Europe, analysed from satellite observations, in situ measurements, and models

Abstract : We present a comprehensive study integrating satellite observations of ozone pollution, in situ measurements, and chemistry-transport model simulations for quantifying the role of anthropogenic emission reductions during the COVID-19 lockdown in spring 2020 over Europe. Satellite observations are derived from the IASI+GOME2 (Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer + Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment 2) multispectral synergism, which provides better sensitivity to near-surface ozone pollution. These observations are mainly analysed in terms of differences between the average on 1-15 April 2020, when the strictest lockdown restrictions took place, and the same period in 2019. They show clear enhancements of near-surface ozone in central Europe and northern Italy, as well as some other hotspots, which are typically characterized by volatile organic compound (VOC)-limited chemical regimes. An overall reduction of ozone is observed elsewhere, where ozone chemistry is limited by the abundance of NOx. The spatial distribution of positive and negative ozone concentration anomalies observed from space is in relatively good quantitative agreement with surface in situ measurements over the continent (a correlation coefficient of 0.55, a root-mean-squared difference of 11 ppb, and the same standard deviation and range of variability). An average difference of ∼ 8 ppb between the two observational datasets is observed, which can partly be explained by the fact the satellite approach retrieves partial columns of ozone with a peak sensitivity above the surface (near 2 km of altitude over land and averaging kernels reaching the middle troposphere over ocean).

For assessing the impact of the reduction of anthropogenic emissions during the lockdown, we adjust the satellite and in situ surface observations for subtracting the influence of meteorological conditions in 2020 and 2019. This adjustment is derived from the chemistry-transport model simulations using the meteorological fields of each year and identical emission inventories. Using adjustments adapted for the altitude and sensitivity of each observation, both datasets show consistent estimates of the influence of lockdown emission reduction. They both show lockdown-associated ozone enhancements in hotspots over central Europe and northern Italy, with a reduced amplitude with respect to the total changes observed between the 2 years and an overall reduction elsewhere over Europe and the ocean. Satellite observations additionally provide the ozone anomalies in the regions remote from in situ sensors, an enhancement over the Mediterranean likely associated with maritime traffic emissions, and a marked large-scale reduction of ozone elsewhere over ocean (particularly over the North Sea), in consistency with previous assessments done with ozone sonde measurements in the free troposphere.

These observational assessments are compared with model-only estimations, using the CHIMERE chemistry-transport model. Whereas a general qualitative consistency of positive and negative ozone anomalies is observed with respect to observational estimates, significant changes are seen in their amplitudes. Models underestimate the range of variability of the ozone changes by at least a factor 2 with respect to the two observational datasets, both for enhancements and decreases of ozone. Moreover, a significant ozone decrease observed at a large hemispheric scale is not simulated since the modelling domain is the European continent. As simulations only consider the troposphere, the influence from stratospheric ozone is also missing. Sensitivity analyses also show an important role of vertical mixing of atmospheric constituents, which depends on the meteorological fields used in the simulation and significantly modify the amplitude of the changes of ozone pollution during the lockdown.

Complete list of metadata
Contributor : Nathalie POTHIER Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Friday, July 22, 2022 - 3:31:24 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, August 11, 2022 - 11:20:24 AM


Publisher files allowed on an open archive


Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License



Juan Cuesta, Lorenzo Costantino, Matthias Beekmann, Guillaume Siour, Laurent Menut, et al.. Ozone pollution during the COVID-19 lockdown in the spring of 2020 over Europe, analysed from satellite observations, in situ measurements, and models. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, European Geosciences Union, 2022, 22, pp.4471-4489. ⟨10.5194/acp-22-4471-2022⟩. ⟨insu-03726912⟩



Record views


Files downloads