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Impacts of COVID-19 lockdown measures on Air quality and Climate

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, many countries worldwide implemented a series of social distancing and containment measures as an attempt to limit its spread. Those measures have led to a significant slowing down of economic activities, drastic drops in road and air traffic, and strong reductions of industrial activities in non-essential sectors, which in turn affected atmospheric emissions and air quality. Several recent studies highlighted the sudden changes in NO2 tropospheric columns measured during the local lockdown periods, while stressing the need to consider all factors at play (e.g. meteorological conditions and long-term emission trends) before drawing any conclusions regarding lockdown impacts.

The ICOVAC project is an ESA response to that problem and includes both observational and modelling activity components in order to assess the impacts of the various lockdown measures on air quality and climate:

The project will last for 1 year. For further information, please contact Dr. Christophe Lerot (christophe.lerot #



Figure 1 : TROPOMI NO2 distributions over Europe in March-April (upper panels) and July-August (lower panels) 2019 and 2020, and their difference maps. After a strong column decrease after the lock-down in March-April 2020, the largest part of Europe returned to 2019 NO2 levels, except for remaining reductions over cities of the order of 10-20%.

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