Staehle, C., Mayer, M., Kirchsteiger, B., Klaus, V., Kult-Herdin, J., Schmidt, C., Schreier, S., Karlicky, J., Trimmel, H., Kasper-Giebl, A., Scherllin-Pirscher, B., & Rieder, H. E. (2022). Quantifying changes in ambient NOₓ, O₃ and PM₁₀ concentrations in Austria during the COVID-19 related lockdown in spring 2020. Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health, 15(11), 1993–2007. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11869-022-01232-w
Air quality; COVID-19; Meteorological filtering; Traffic reduction
During spring 2020, unprecedented changes in local and regional emissions have occurred around the globe due to governmental restrictions associated with COVID-19. Many European countries including Austria issued partial curfews or stay-at-home order policies, which have impacted ambient air quality through reductions in non-essential transportation and energy consumption of industrial sites and work places. Here, we analyse the effect of these measures on ambient concentrations of nitrogen oxides (NOx), ozone (O3) and particulate matter (PM10) during the first nationwide lockdown in Austria (16.03.2020 to 14.04.2020). To ensure a robust analysis, the Austrian domain is divided into four individual subsectors contingent on regional climate. For air quality analysis a novel method is applied for filtering days with comparable weather conditions during the 2020 lockdown and spring 2017 to 2019. In general, our analysis shows decreasing pollutant concentrations, although in magnitude dependent on pollutant and regional subdomain. Largest reductions are found for NOx reaching up to -68% at traffic sites reflecting the substantial decrease in non-essential transport. Changes in the O3 concentrations at background sites show a rather weak response to NOx declines varying between roughly -18 to +8% for both the median and the upper tail of the distribution. Occasional site level increases in O3 concentrations can be attributed to comparably weak titration during night-time. PM10 concentrations show the smallest response among air pollutants, attributable to manifold precursor sources not affected by the lockdown measures. However, our analysis indicates also a shift of PM10 distributions at traffic sites closer to distributions observed at background sites.
Environmental Monitoring and Climate Adaptation: 100%