Special Issue on COVID-19 Aerosol Drivers, Impacts and Mitigation (X)

Madineni Venkat Ratnam This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.1, Perumal Prasad1, Sivan Thankamani Akhil Raj1, Ibrahim Hoteit2

1 National Atmospheric Research Laboratory (NARL), Gadanki-517112, India
2 King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia

Received: July 13, 2020
Revised: October 20, 2020
Accepted: October 20, 2020

 Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

Download Citation: ||https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2020.07.0397  

Cite this article:

Venkat Ratnam, M., Prasad, P., Akhil Raj, S.T., Hoteit, I. (2021). Effect of Lockdown due to COVID-19 on the Aerosol and Trace Gases Spatial Distribution over India and Adjoining Regions. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 21, 200397. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2020.07.0397


  • 50–60% reduction in the NO2 and SO2 levels is observed due to lock down over India.
  • Similar magnitude reduction is observed in AOD over IGP and south India.
  • However, more than 50% increase in AOD levels is observed over central India.
  • Natural source through long-range transport dominates than anthropogenic over India.


Significant improvement in the air quality has been reported during the ‘Lockdown’ being implemented due to the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic in several parts of the globe. Using Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) satellite measurements, we found a 50–60% reduction in the mean tropospheric columnar Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and planetary boundary layer Sulphur dioxide (SO2) levels over India and adjoining regions during the lockdown (25 March–7 April 2020) compared to the pre-lockdown periods (8–21 March 2020). Similar decreases in aerosol concentrations over Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) and south India during lockdown are noticed in Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) measurements, reaching the lowest values in the satellite era. Surprisingly, aerosol concentrations increased significantly (50–70%) during lockdown over central India when compared to pre-lockdown and climatology (2001–2019). A Concentration Weighted Trajectory analysis suggests that the air masses traveling from middle-east and Africa are the potential sources for the observed high aerosol concentrations over central India. Changes in the background meteorology (decrease in wind speed and increase in water vapour) during the lockdown made these aerosols stagnant and increased their size over central India, leading to higher AOD. These results suggest that natural sources (long-range transport) dominate anthropogenic pollution sources over India and adjoining regions, at least during the dry season. This finding is important to argue against the common belief that Asian countries are the main sources of pollution when long-range transport, which is a natural source, is the main cause. Lockdown has provided an opportunity to test this through a natural simulation by turning down the anthropogenic activities.

Keywords: Indian continent, COVID-19, Air pollution, Aerosol, Long-range transport, MODIS, OMI

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