Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Air Quality in the Italian Northwestern Alps during Year 2020: Assessment of the COVID-19 «Lockdown Effect» from Multi-Technique Observations and Models

Version 1 : Received: 25 June 2021 / Approved: 28 June 2021 / Online: 28 June 2021 (14:37:17 CEST)

How to cite: Diémoz, H.; Magri, T.; Pession, G.; Tarricone, C.; Tombolato, I.K.F.; Fasano, G.; Zublena, M. Air Quality in the Italian Northwestern Alps during Year 2020: Assessment of the COVID-19 «Lockdown Effect» from Multi-Technique Observations and Models. Preprints 2021, 2021060667 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202106.0667.v1). Diémoz, H.; Magri, T.; Pession, G.; Tarricone, C.; Tombolato, I.K.F.; Fasano, G.; Zublena, M. Air Quality in the Italian Northwestern Alps during Year 2020: Assessment of the COVID-19 «Lockdown Effect» from Multi-Technique Observations and Models. Preprints 2021, 2021060667 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202106.0667.v1).

Abstract

The effect of COVID-19 confinement regulations on air quality in the northwestern Alps is here assessed based on measurements at five valley sites in different environmental contexts. Surface concentrations of nitrogen oxides, ozone, particle matter, together with size, chemical, and optical (light absorption) aerosol properties, complemented by observations along the vertical column are considered. The 2020 concentration anomalies relative to previous years’ average are compared with the output of a machine learning algorithm accounting for weather effects and a chemical transport model, their difference being within 10–20 %. Even in the relatively pristine environment of the Alps, the «lockdown effect» is well discernible, both in the early confinement phase and in late 2020, especially in NOx concentrations (NO decreasing by >80 % and NO2 by >50 %). While ozone shows little variation, secondary aerosols increase due to enhanced transport from the neighbouring Po basin and coarse particles decrease due to missing resuspension by traffic and, in the city, to the shutdown of a steel mill. The NO2 vertical column density decreases by >20 %, whereas the aerosol profile is mainly influenced by large-scale dynamics, except a shallow layer about 500 m thick possibly sensitive to curtailed surface emissions.

Subject Areas

COVID-19; air quality; nitrogen oxides; ozone; aerosol; source apportionment; aerosol profiles; models; Alps; Italy

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