Significant reduction in NO2 concentrations amidst Covid-19

Rodiano Bonacci
Novembre 20, 2020

Coronavirus pandemic-induced restrictions reduced the global nitrogen dioxide concentration by almost 20 per cent since February, NASA researchers have found. Speaking on the importance of reducing nitrogen dioxide levels in the air, the NASA statement states that air pollutant is "primarily produced by the combustion of fossil fuels used by industry and transportation" and since there was a sudden halt in both at the height of the pandemic, a significant drop in the level was seen.

"In some ways, I was surprised by how much it dropped", said Keller.

The researchers drew the comparison between pandemic-free 2020 versus coronavirus-induced 2020.

The researchers' findings were presented at the 2020 International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis, which was held from November 9 to 19 in San Diego, California. Now the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has an exact figure of the pollution deviation this year.

However, researchers meant to evaluate this year's reduction as there has been a drastic shift in human behaviour due to the coronavirus. "On a city-level, 50 of the 61 analyzed cities show nitrogen dioxide reductions between 20-50%" NASA stated.

For the analysis, the researchers received data from 46 countries - a total of 5,756 observation sites on the ground - relaying hourly atmospheric composition measurements in near-real-time.

As per NASA findings, China's Wuhan, which was the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic outbreak and was the first to impose a lockdown, showed the first reduction in emission level - it was as much as 60 percent lesser than expected. "Many countries have already done a very good job in lowering their nitrogen dioxide concentrations over the last decades due to clean air regulations, but what our results clearly show is that there is still a significant human behavior-driven contribution", Keller added.

The report also showed a 60% decrease in Milan and a 45% decrease in NY as their local restrictions went into effect.

The study was published on NASA's official website.

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