Abrupt emissions reductions during COVID-19 contributed to record summer rainfall in China

Journal Article
Nature Communications, vol. 13, iss. 1, 2022
Yang Yang, Lili Ren, Mingxuan Wu, Hailong Wang, Fengfei Song, L. Ruby Leung, Xin Hao, Jiandong Li, Lei Chen, Huimin Li, Liangying Zeng, Yang Zhou, Pinya Wang, Hong Liao, Jing Wang, Zhen-Qiang Zhou
AbstractRecord rainfall and severe flooding struck eastern China in the summer of 2020. The extreme summer rainfall occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, which started in China in early 2020 and spread rapidly across the globe. By disrupting human activities, substantial reductions in anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols might have affected regional precipitation in many ways. Here, we investigate such connections and show that the abrupt emissions reductions during the pandemic strengthened the summer atmospheric convection over eastern China, resulting in a positive sea level pressure anomaly over northwestern Pacific Ocean. The latter enhanced moisture convergence to eastern China and further intensified rainfall in that region. Modeling experiments show that the reduction in aerosols had a stronger impact on precipitation than the decrease of greenhouse gases did. We conclude that through abrupt emissions reductions, the COVID-19 pandemic contributed importantly to the 2020 extreme summer rainfall in eastern China.