NOx Emissions Reduction and Rebound in China Due to the COVID-19 Crisis

J. Ding, R.J. van der A, H.J. Eskes, B. Mijling, T. Stavrakou, J. H.G.M. van Geffen, J. P. Veefkind

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During the COVID-19 lockdown (24 January–20 March) in China low air pollution levels were reported in the media as a consequence of reduced economic and social activities. Quantification of the pollution reduction is not straightforward due to effects of transport, meteorology, and chemistry. We have analyzed the NOx emission reductions calculated with an inverse algorithm applied to daily NO2 observations from TROPOMI onboard the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite. This method allows the quantification of emission reductions per city and the analysis of emissions of maritime transport and of the energy sector separately. The reductions we found are 20–50% for cities, about 40% for power plants, and 15–40% for maritime transport depending on the region. The reduction in both emissions and concentrations shows a similar timeline consisting of a sharp reduction (34–50%) around the Spring festival and a slow recovery from mid-February to mid-March.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020GL089912
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • China
  • COVID-19
  • NOx emissions


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