How the coronavirus outbreak has reduced pollution worldwide

Satellite imagery shows a significant reduction in air pollution after Coronavirus outbreak. Find out more:

How the coronavirus outbreak has reduced pollution worldwide
How the coronavirus outbreak has reduced pollution worldwide?

How the coronavirus outbreak has reduced pollution worldwide?

We all have united to fight the coronavirus pandemic. But before the COVID-19 outbreak, we used to unite for fighting the carbon emissions and the increasing pollution levels. The disease outbreak has surprisingly reduced air pollution in many countries.

The coronavirus outbreak has forced us to stay at home thereby reducing traffic and air pollution around the globe. To minimize the risk of transmission, the governments are making more and more regulations. It includes reducing travel and social interactions. 

Millions are kept from work, college and public areas. The satellite images have shown a significant decline in pollution. The nitrogen levels are less than before because the nitrogen dioxide in the air comes from emissions of vehicles, plants and other sources. 

Satellites offer a unique dimension to monitor the health of Earth. Till now, ESA's Sentinel-5P satellite has shown a dramatic decline in Nitrogen dioxide levels over Asia and Europe.

Every country is showing a lower concentration of pollutants 

In California, places like the Bay Area and Central Valley are following strict social distancing rules. As a result, there is a remarkable reduction in pollution, as interpreted using Sentinel-5P data. California is following the guidelines to stay at home.

Image showing reduction in Air Pollution after Coronavirus outbreak (Credit: ESA)

When the satellite image analysis was done for China using the images released by NASA, a surprising decline in nitrogen emission levels was found. China is also following coronavirus restrictions. 

According to Marshall Burke, the assistant professor at Stanford’s Department of Earth Science, this reduction in air pollution could have saved thousands from dying due to poor air quality. 

Pollution hotspots like Marylebone in London and the Alps at the end of Po Valley, Europe have seen big variations. 

Studies are showing dramatic results

The air above the earth is cleaned up faster than ever after the pandemic. Satellite images are continuously showing a sharp decline in emissions after the lockdown in several places.

Drop-in NO2 levels are clearly visible in these two images (Image source: NASA)

After January, there is a continuous drop in Nitrogen Dioxide pollution as estimated by orbital instruments for monitoring air quality. The air quality researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Fei Liu also commented about the sudden drop-of in pollution due to a particular reason. According to her, the event was so intense, quick and noticeable compared to past years including the 2008 economic recession. 

The Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument, (TROPOMI) that onboard the Copernicus satellite, is continuously observing the atmospheric changes after the COVID-19 outbreak. The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) and TROPOMI have found a remarkable reduction in the fine particulate matter which is the major source of air pollution.

Month wise change in NO2 levels after the pandemic (Image courtesy: NASA)

The above results combined with computer models have shown a decrease in surface particulate matter over huge areas of China.

Detailed research is going on for scientific analysis and precise results. Professor of air pollution at the University of Leicester, Paul Mark is interested in knowing the future of a low carbon economy. “We are now, inadvertently, conducting the largest-scale experiment ever seen, ” he added. 

There may be good news from agriculture sector too because pollution affects the growth of plants. While finding a solution for the coronavirus outbreak, we have accidentally solved one of our major problems.