Detection and attribution of an anomaly in terrestrial photosynthesis in Europe during the COVID-19 lockdown - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles Science of the Total Environment Year : 2023

Detection and attribution of an anomaly in terrestrial photosynthesis in Europe during the COVID-19 lockdown

1 UMR ISPA - Interactions Sol Plante Atmosphère
2 University of Toledo
3 SAS - Sol Agro et hydrosystème Spatialisation
4 JRC - European Commission - Joint Research Centre [Ispra]
5 Università degli studi della Tuscia [Viterbo]
6 University of Wisconsin-Madison
7 D-USYS - Department of Environmental Systems Science [ETH Zürich]
9 KNMI - Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute
10 CNR-ISAFOM - Institute for agriculture and forestry systems in the Mediterranean
11 Georg-August-University = Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
12 CAS - Czech Academy of Sciences [Prague]
13 URFM - Ecologie des Forêts Méditerranéennes
14 TNO - The Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research
15 TU Dresden - Technische Universität Dresden = Dresden University of Technology
16 DTU - Danmarks Tekniske Universitet = Technical University of Denmark
17 ECOSYS - Ecologie fonctionnelle et écotoxicologie des agroécosystèmes
18 Helsingin yliopisto = Helsingfors universitet = University of Helsinki
19 FEM - Fondazione Edmund Mach - Edmund Mach Foundation [Italie]
20 SLU - Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences = Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet
21 UFZ - Helmholtz Zentrum für Umweltforschung = Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research
22 Jülich Research Centre
23 ESE - Ecologie Systématique et Evolution
24 ARAP Valle Aosta - Environmental Protection Agency of Aosta Valley = Agenzia regionale protezione ambiante Valle d'Aosta
25 MPI-BGC - Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
26 WWU - Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster = University of Münster
27 UA - University of Antwerp
28 RAS - Russian Academy of Sciences [Moscow]
29 LSCE - Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement [Gif-sur-Yvette]
30 Computational & Multiscale Mechanics of Materials, Department of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, University of Liège, Allée de la découverte 9, B-4000 Liège, Belgium
31 Unicatt - Università cattolica del Sacro Cuore [Brescia]
32 Lund University
33 University of Eastern Finland
Matthias Cuntz
Daniel Berveiller
Meelis Mölder
  • Function : Author
Denis Loustau


Carbon dioxide (CO2) uptake by plant photosynthesis, referred to as gross primary production (GPP) at the ecosystem level, is sensitive to environmental factors, including pollutant exposure, pollutant uptake, and changes in the scattering of solar shortwave irradiance (SWin) − the energy source for photosynthesis. The spring lockdown due to COVID-19 resulted in improved air quality and atmospheric transparency, providing a unique opportunity to assess the impact of air pollutants on terrestrial ecosystem functioning. However, detecting these effects can be challenging as GPP is influenced by other meteorological drivers and management practices. Based on data collected from 44 European ecosystem-scale CO2 flux monitoring stations, we observed significant changes in spring GPP at 34 sites during 2020 compared to 2015-2019. Among these, 14 sites showed an increase in GPP associated with higher SW in , 10 sites had lower GPP linked to atmospheric and soil dryness, and seven sites were subjected to management practices. The remaining three sites exhibited varying dynamics, with one experiencing colder and rainier weather resulting in lower GPP, and two showing higher GPP associated with earlier spring melts. Analysis using the regional atmospheric chemical transport model (LOTOS-EUROS) indicated that the ozone (O3) concentration remained relatively unchanged at the research sites, making it unlikely that O3 exposure was the dominant factor driving the primary production anomaly. In contrast, SW in increased by 9.4 % at 36 sites, suggesting enhanced GPP possibly due to reduced aerosol optical depth and cloudiness. Our findings indicate that air pollution and cloudiness may weaken the terrestrial carbon sink by up to 16 %. Accurate and continuous ground-based observations are crucial for detecting and attributing subtle changes in terrestrial ecosystem functioning in response to environmental and anthropogenic drivers.
Fichier principal
Vignette du fichier
tang_et_al_sci_total_envi_2023.pdf (6.7 Mo) Télécharger le fichier
Origin Files produced by the author(s)

Dates and versions

hal-04224631 , version 1 (02-10-2023)




Angela Che Ing Tang, Christophe Flechard, Nicola Arriga, Dario Papale, Paul C Stoy, et al.. Detection and attribution of an anomaly in terrestrial photosynthesis in Europe during the COVID-19 lockdown. Science of the Total Environment, 2023, 903, pp.166149. ⟨10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.166149⟩. ⟨hal-04224631⟩
225 View
13 Download



Gmail Mastodon Facebook X LinkedIn More