According tomedia New Atlas, the outbreak appears to have had a huge impact on pollution levels in China. NASA satellite data show a “significant decrease” in nitrogen dioxide concentrations in China, which the agency says is “partly related” to a slowdown in economic activity aimed at “containing the threat of the outbreak.”
The data was collected by NASA’s Aura and ESA troposphere monitor satellites, which track edgtogy concentrations in different parts of China before and after quarantine since the beginning of the year.
Nitrogen dioxide is a by-product of the burning of fossil fuels, including coal, oil, natural gas or diesel, and may come from cars, trucks, buses or power plants, as well as other industrial facilities. In terms of harm to human health and the planet, nitrogen dioxide pollution can cause respiratory diseases, such as asthma and infections, and mix with other chemicals in the atmosphere, creating acid rain and pollution in coastal waters.
Satellite data was compiled into the map showing nitrogen dioxide concentrations across China from January 1 to February 10, covering both before and during isolation. This suggests a significant drop in nitrogen dioxide concentrations, which scientists believe are at least part of the reason.
“This is the first time I’ve seen a dramatic decline in such a wide range of events due to a particular event,” said Liu Fei, an air quality researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “
A significant reduction in nitrogen dioxide pollution has begun near Wuhan as authorities have begun closing transport routes and commercial sites in and out of the city to curb the spread of the virus. This reduction has since spread with the establishment of other exclusion zones throughout the country and similar measures taken.
Another factor in all this is the annual reduction in nitrogen dioxide pollution caused by the Chinese New Year holiday, during which many businesses and factories close from the last week of January to the beginning of February. Previous observations have shown that pollution has decreased during this period, but scientists say this year will be different.
Looking at OMI (Ozone Monitoring Instrument) data from the Aura satellite, which has produced global nitrogen dioxide data for more than 15 years, indicates that this year’s levels have dropped significantly. After comparing the 2020 data with the average for the current year from 2005 to 2019, the team came to this conclusion and found that they were 10 to 30 percent below the usual recorded level.
“There’s always this general slowdown at this time of year,” said Barry Lefer, an air quality scientist at NASA. Our long-term OMI data allows us to see if these values are abnormal and why. “Furthermore, nitrogen dioxide levels usually rebound after the Spring Festival, although this year this trend has been reversed again.
“This year’s emissions reduction rate is more important than in previous years and lasts longer, ” Liu said. I’m not surprised, because many cities across the country have taken steps to minimize the spread of the virus. “