Scientists run simulations on Cheyenne to unravel air-quality paradox

Researchers were presented with a perplexing riddle

In a new study investigating changes in emissions and their interaction with secondary pollutants, researchers were presented with a perplexing riddle: While lockdowns last year in response to COVID-19 resulted in drastic cuts to emissions, especially from vehicle tailpipes, some urban areas saw a paradoxical spike in ozone air pollution. 


“The COVID-19 pandemic provided us with an unanticipated global air-quality experiment,” said NCAR scientist Benjamin Gaubert, who led the study.  

To determine what caused the changes in air quality, the research team used Cheyenne to run simulations of the atmosphere with the latest version of the NCAR-based Community Earth System Model (CESM2.2). 

Read the full news release here.

Pollution in Beijing during the pandemic

Air pollution in Beijing. In some cities, including those in northern China, the decrease in emissions due to COVID-19 lockdowns actually caused an increase in ozone pollution.

Yinan Chen, Wikimedia