15 June 2020
Long-range transport (LRT) of air pollutants from East Asia during the northeast monsoon season impacts several downwind locations. In 2020, the initial COVID-19 lockdowns in China overlapped with Week 3 of the Chinese New Year (CNY) holiday, and an Asian outflow event. Thus, movement of the Chinese populace from city to city was already greatly reduced by the time of the LRT episode, although the reductions in industrial output are less clear. We found NO 2 column concentrations were reduced by 24% during the CNY Week 3 this year compared to previous years. The attenuated transport event arrived to northern Taiwan with a PM 2.5 concentration <45 μg m −3 and most often <35 μg m −3, which is 2–3 times lower than LRT episodes of similar back-trajectory and synoptic patterns. The whole episode persisted for about 60 h, longer than most LRT episodes from China to Taiwan. CMAQ v5.2.1 modeling of the LRT event with 100% emission and reduced emission scenarios, revealed emissions in China were approximately 50% less than normal periods. Due to the length of the episode and the significant reduction in emissions, Taiwan avoided a PM 2.5 surplus of 19.2 μg m −3 on average during the episode, equivalent to a 0.5 μg m −3 reduction for the whole 3-month winter season. Employing the 100% emission model scenario and scaling up to the average episode hours each winter, the PM 2.5 surplus delivered via plumes on the northeast monsoon is equivalent to a 0.5 μg m −3 surplus for the whole year.
COVID-19 lockdown in China reduced long-range transport of air pollution to Taiwan.
OMI NO2 over central-north China reduced by 24% compared to previous years.
PM2.5 concentration in northern Taiwan 2 times lower compared to similar episode
CMAQ simulation with 50% reduced emission in China matches measured PM2.5 in Taiwan.
Avoided PM2.5 pollution equivalent to 0.5 μg m −3 reduction for entire winter season