Lockdowns imposed across the world to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic also reduced the anthropogenic emissions. This study investigates the changes in the anthropogenic and natural pollution levels during the lockdown over the Arabian Peninsula (AP), a region where natural pollutants (mineral dust) dominate. In-situ and satellite observations, reanalysis products, and Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) coupled with Chemistry module (WRF-Chem) simulations were analyzed to investigate the influence of COVID−19 lockdown on the aerosols (PM2.5, PM10, and AOD) and trace gases (NO2 and SO2). WRF-Chem reasonably reproduced the satellite and in-situ measurements during the study period, with correlation coefficients varying between 0.6-0.8 (0.3-0.8) for PM10 (NO2 and SO2) at 95% confidence levels. During the lockdown, WRF-Chem simulations indicate a significant reduction (50-60%) in the trace gas concentrations over the entire AP compared to the pre-lockdown period. This is shown to be mostly due to a significant reduction in the emissions and an increase in the boundary layer height. An increase in the aerosol concentrations over the central and northern parts of the AP, and a decrease over the north-west AP, Red Sea, and Gulf of Aden regions are noticeable during the lockdown. WRF-Chem simulations suggest that the increase in particulate concentrations over the central and northern AP during the lockdown is mainly due to an increase in dust concentrations, manifested by the stronger convergence and upliftment of winds and warmer surface temperatures (15-25%) over the desert regions. The restricted anthropogenic activities drastically reduced the trace gas concentrations, however, the reduction in particulate concentration levels is offset by the increase in the natural processes (dust emissions).
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was funded by the Office of the Vice President of Research at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) under the Virtual Red Sea Initiative (Grant # REP/1/3268-01-01). WRF-Chem simulations were conducted on the KAUST Super Computational Facility SHAHEEN.
Copyright © 2022 Karumuri, Dasari, Gandham, Viswanadhapalli, Madineni and Hoteit.
- air pollutants
- Arabian Peninsula
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Science(all)