Black carbon aerosol reductions during COVID-19 confinement quantified by aircraft measurements over Europe
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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- Journal articles 
Original versionAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). 2022, 22 (13), 8683-8699. 10.5194/acp-22-8683-2022
The abrupt reduction in human activities during the first lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented atmospheric conditions. To quantify the changes in lower tropospheric air pollution, we conducted the BLUESKY aircraft campaign and measured vertical profiles of black carbon (BC) aerosol particles over western and southern Europe in May and June 2020. We compared the results to similar measurements of the EMeRGe EU campaign performed in July 2017 and found that the BC mass concentrations (MBC) were reduced by about 48 %. For BC particle number concentrations, we found comparable reductions. Based on ECHAM/MESSy Atmospheric Chemistry (EMAC) chemistry-transport model simulations, we found differences in meteorological conditions and flight patterns responsible for about 7 % of the MBC reductions. Accordingly 41 % of MBC reductions can be attributed to reduced anthropogenic emissions. Our results reflect the strong and immediate positive effect of changes in human activities on air quality and the atmospheric role of BC aerosols as a major air pollutant in the Anthropocene.