The Environmental Story During the COVID-19 Lockdown: How Human Activities Affect PM2.5 Concentration in China?

IEEE Geosci Remote Sens Lett. 2020 Dec 8;19:1001005. doi: 10.1109/LGRS.2020.3040435. eCollection 2022.


At the end of 2019, the very first COVID-19 coronavirus infection was reported and then it spread across the world just like wildfires. From late January to March 2020, most cities and villages in China were locked down, and consequently, human activities decreased dramatically. This letter presents an "offline learning and online inference" approach to explore the variation of PM2.5 pollution during this period. In the experiments, a deep regression model was trained to establish the complex relationship between remote sensing data and in situ PM2.5 observations, and then the spatially continuous monthly PM2.5 distribution map was simulated using the Google Earth Engine platform. The results reveal that the COVID-19 lockdown truly decreased the PM2.5 pollution with certain hysteresis and the fine particle pollution begins to increase when advancing resumption of work and production gradually.

Keywords: Absorbing Aerosol Index (AAI); Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD); COVID-19; Google Earth Engine (GEE); PM25; deep learning; remote sensing.

Grant support

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant 41901315.