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Rapid greening response of China's 2020 spring vegetation to COVID-19 restrictions: implications for climate change


Su, F and Fu, D and Yan, F and Xiao, H and Pan, T and Xiao, Y and Kang, L and Zhou, C and Meadows, M and Lyne, V and Wilson, JP and Zhao, N and Yang, X and Liu, G, Rapid greening response of China's 2020 spring vegetation to COVID-19 restrictions: implications for climate change, Science Advances, 7, (35) Article eabe8044. ISSN 2375-2548 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2021 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Attribution License 4.0 (

DOI: doi:10.1126/sciadv.abe8044


The 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) negatively affected global public health and socioeconomic development. Lockdowns and travel restrictions to contain COVID-19 resulted in reduced human activity and decreased anthropogenic emissions. However, the secondary effects of these restrictions on the biophysical environment are uncertain. Using remotely sensed big data, we investigated how lockdowns and traffic restrictions affected China's spring vegetation in 2020. Our analyses show that travel decreased by 58% in the first 18 days following implementation of the restrictions across China. Subsequently, atmospheric optical clarity increased and radiation levels on the vegetation canopy were augmented. Furthermore, the spring of 2020 arrived 8.4 days earlier and vegetation 17.45% greener compared to 2015-2019. Reduced human activity resulting from COVID-19 restrictions contributed to a brighter, earlier, and greener 2020 spring season in China. This study shows that short-term changes in human activity can have a relatively rapid ecological impact at the regional scale.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:COVID-19, climate change, phenology, big data, atmospheric pollution
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Climate change science
Research Field:Climate change processes
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Air quality, atmosphere and weather
Objective Field:Air quality
UTAS Author:Lyne, V (Dr Vincent Lyne)
ID Code:147876
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Fisheries and Aquaculture
Deposited On:2021-11-19
Last Modified:2021-12-08
Downloads:4 View Download Statistics

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