Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2454
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2454
04 Dec 2023
 | 04 Dec 2023

Measurement report: Characteristics of airborne black carbon-containing particles during the 2021 summer COVID-19 lockdown in Yangzhou, China

Yuan Dai, Junfeng Wang, Houjun Wang, Shijie Cui, Yunjiang Zhang, Haiwei Li, Yun Wu, Ming Wang, Eleonora Aruffo, and Xinlei Ge

Abstract. Black carbon-containing (BCc) particles are pervasive in ambient atmosphere. The unexpected outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 summer prompted a localized and prolonged lockdown in Yangzhou City, situated in the YRD, China, which provides a unique opportunity to gain insights into the relationship between emission sources and BCc. Satellite and ground-level measurements both demonstrated that strict emission controls effectively reduced local gaseous pollutants. Meanwhile, single particle aerosol mass spectrometer (SPA-MS) analysis showed that the number fraction of freshly emitted BCc particles decreased to 28 % during the lockdown (LD), with that from vehicle emissions experiencing the most substantial reduction. However, the uncontrolled reductions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) likely contributed to increased ozone (O3) concentrations, increased the oxidizing capacity, which may in turn enhanced secondary PM2.5 formation and compensated the primary PM2.5 reduction. As a result, we did observe a slight increase of PM2.5 concentration (21.2 μg m-3) during the LD period compared to the period before the lockdown (BLD), and the increase of more aged BCc particles. Reactive trace gases (e.g., NOx, SO2, and VOCs) could form thick coatings on pre-existing particles likely via enhanced heterogeneous hydrolysis under high RH as well, resulting in significant BCc particle growth (~600 nm) during LD period. Furthermore, BCc source apportionment reveals that BCc particles were primarily of local origin (78 %) in Yangzhou during normal summertime. However, coal combustion (23 %) and vehicle emissions (21 %) were prominent non-local pollution sources, with the air mass originating from the southeast, along with biomass burning emissions (19 %) from the northeast, contributing significantly. Our research highlights that short-term, strict local emission controls may not effectively reduce PM pollution, due to the non-linear responses of PM2.5 to its precursors , further effective PM2.5 reduction requires a comprehensive and extensive approach with a regionally coordinated and balanced control strategy through joint regulation.

Publisher's note: Copernicus Publications remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims made in the text, published maps, institutional affiliations, or any other geographical representation in this preprint. The responsibility to include appropriate place names lies with the authors.
Yuan Dai, Junfeng Wang, Houjun Wang, Shijie Cui, Yunjiang Zhang, Haiwei Li, Yun Wu, Ming Wang, Eleonora Aruffo, and Xinlei Ge

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2454', Anonymous Referee #2, 24 Dec 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Xinlei Ge, 18 Mar 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2454', Anonymous Referee #1, 24 Dec 2023
  • RC3: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2454', Anonymous Referee #3, 25 Dec 2023
Yuan Dai, Junfeng Wang, Houjun Wang, Shijie Cui, Yunjiang Zhang, Haiwei Li, Yun Wu, Ming Wang, Eleonora Aruffo, and Xinlei Ge

Data sets

Data of BCc particles during the 2021 summer COVID-19 lockdown in YZ Yuan Dai https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.24427795

Yuan Dai, Junfeng Wang, Houjun Wang, Shijie Cui, Yunjiang Zhang, Haiwei Li, Yun Wu, Ming Wang, Eleonora Aruffo, and Xinlei Ge

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Short summary
Short-term strict emission control can improve air quality but the effectiveness requires assessment. During 2021 summer COVID-19 lockdown in Yangzhou, we showed that the PM2.5 level did not decrease with decrease of gaseous pollutants as aged black carbon-containing particles increased substantially, due to enhanced atmospheric oxidizing capacity and high relative humidity. The results highlights the importance of a regionally balanced control strategy for future air quality management.