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Observed impacts of COVID-19 on urban CO₂ emissions

Turner, Alexander J. and Kim, Jinsol and Fitzmaurice, Helen and Newman, Catherine and Worthington, Kevin and Chan, Katherine and Wooldridge, Paul J. and Köhler, Philipp and Frankenberg, Christian and Cohen, Ronald C. (2020) Observed impacts of COVID-19 on urban CO₂ emissions. Geophysical Research Letters, 47 (22). Art. No. e2020GL090037. ISSN 0094-8276. doi:10.1029/2020GL090037.

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Governments restricted mobility and effectively shuttered much of the global economy in response to the COVID‐19 pandemic. Six San Francisco Bay Area counties were the first region in the United States to issue a “shelter‐in‐place” order asking non‐essential workers to stay home. Here we use CO₂ observations from 35 Berkeley Environment, Air‐quality and CO₂ Network (BEACO₂N) nodes and an atmospheric transport model to quantify changes in urban CO₂ emissions due to the order. We infer hourly emissions at 900‐m spatial resolution for 6 weeks before and 6 weeks during the order. We observe a 30% decrease in anthropogenic CO₂ emissions during the order and show that this decrease is primarily due to changes in traffic (–48%) with pronounced changes to daily and weekly cycles; non‐traffic emissions show small changes (–8%). These findings provide a glimpse into a future with reduced CO₂ emissions through electrification of vehicles.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
http://beacon.berkeley.eduRelated ItemData ItemCode
Turner, Alexander J.0000-0003-1406-7372
Fitzmaurice, Helen0000-0002-1631-5491
Chan, Katherine0000-0002-1976-1438
Wooldridge, Paul J.0000-0003-2711-5900
Köhler, Philipp0000-0002-7820-1318
Frankenberg, Christian0000-0002-0546-5857
Cohen, Ronald C.0000-0001-6617-7691
Additional Information:© 2020 American Geophysical Union. Issue Online: 13 November 2020; Version of Record online: 13 November 2020; Accepted manuscript online: 30 October 2020; Manuscript accepted: 27 October 2020; Manuscript revised: 29 September 2020; Manuscript received: 24 July 2020. We thank B. Fasoli for recent developments to the STILT model and sharing pre‐processing code, E. Delaria for developing a temperature calibration, P. Vannucci and A. Lall for feedback, and former members of the BEACO₂N project for establishing the network: A. A. Shusterman, V. Teige, and K. Lieschke. The author acknowledges ideas and advice from the participants in the COVID‐19 and Earth System Science workshop organized by the W.M. Keck Institute for Space Studies. We are grateful to the team that has realized the TROPOMI instrument, consisting of the partnership between Airbus Defence and Space, KNMI, SRON, and TNO, commissioned by NSO and ESA. A. J. T. was supported as a Miller Fellow with the Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science at UC Berkeley. This research was funded by grants from the Koret Foundation and University of California, Berkeley. Part of this research was funded by the NASA Carbon Cycle Science program (grant NNX17AE14G). TROPOMI SIF data generation by P. K. and C. F. is funded by the Earth Science U.S. Participating Investigator program (grant NNX15AH95G). This research used the Savio computational cluster resource provided by the Berkeley Research Computing program at the University of California, Berkeley (supported by the UC Berkeley Chancellor, Vice Chancellor for Research, and Chief Information Officer). The authors declare no competing interests. Data Availability Statement: CO2 data are available online ( Code has been deposited in GitHub (
Group:COVID-19, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Miller Institute for Basic Research in ScienceUNSPECIFIED
Koret FoundationUNSPECIFIED
University of California, BerkeleyUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:urban CO2; COVID; traffic; emissions; SIF; inversion
Issue or Number:22
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20201026-102351517
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Turner, A. J., Kim, J., Fitzmaurice, H., Newman, C., Worthington, K., Chan, K., et. al. (2020). Observed impacts of COVID‐19 on urban CO2 emissions. Geophysical Research Letters, 47, e2020GL090037.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:106277
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:26 Oct 2020 17:43
Last Modified:01 Jun 2023 22:47

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