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

Manoj K. Mishra This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Pradyuman S. Rathore

Space Applications Centre, ISRO, Ahmedabad 380015, Gujarat, India


Received: August 26, 2020
Revised: November 6, 2020
Accepted: November 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.2020.07.0461  

Cite this article:

Mishra, M.K., Rathore, P.S. (2021). Impact of Nationwide COVID-19 Lockdown on Indian Air Quality in Terms of Aerosols as Observed from the Space. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 21, 200461. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2020.07.0461


  • Impact of COVID-19 event on aerosols is analyzed using satellite datasets.
  • 60% of Indian landmass shows a decrease in AOD due to lockdown (LD).
  • Significant drop show decrease in AOD is due to restricted anthropogenic activities.
  • Northeast and partially western India do not show a drop in AOD during LD.
  • Not much improvement in some regions is due to increased fire activities during LD.


Air pollution in India, especially in cities located in Indo-Gangetic plain (IGP), has exceeded all standards in the recent past. The development of an effective pollution control strategy requires knowledge of the pollutant sources, their spatio-temporal variability, and the efficacy of control strategies. The Indian government has implemented nationwide lockdown (LD) during March and April 2020 to contain the infectious disease COVID-19. LD also provides an opportunity to evaluate the efficacy of restricting anthropogenic activities in controlling air pollution. In the present paper, using data from space-borne sensors, a detailed analysis of the impact of LD on aerosols in the Indian atmosphere is presented. The aerosol optical depth (AOD), fine mode fraction (FMF), absorbing aerosol index (AAI), active fire/thermal anomaly and the HYSPLIT model is used to study the instantaneous state and spatio-temporal transportation of aerosols. On average, an overall decrease in AOD with 60% of the Indian landmass showing an average decrease of 0.16 is observed. A significant decrease in FMF indorses decreased AOD solely due to restricted anthropogenic activities, especially in IGP, which confirms the positive impact of LD on air quality. However, central, northeast and partially western India show some contrasting results which are associated with smoke from active fires. An increase of 30% in fire spots is observed during LD in these regions. The city-level analysis shows improved air quality in most of the cities located in IGP during LD. The cities located in the west, north-west and east India have shown a small decrease in AOD during LD, while in central, north-east, and few in the southern region, the increased AOD is observed in spite of LD due to increase in biomass burning.

Keywords: COVID-19, Aerosol optical depth, Fine mode fraction, Active fire, HYSPLIT

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