Amidst the deadly coronavirus outbreak, air quality is significantly improving in countries that have ordered quarantine. As per reports, while the air quality in these areas has certainly improved, their long-term impacts still remain uncertain. According to images by NASA, the United States’ space agency, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) fell dramatically in Wuhan, China, which is the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic.
NO2 is mainly produced by vehicles, industrial sites, and thermal power stations. But due to the quarantine N02 from these sources has dropped drastically. According to reports, as China moves past the peak of its coronavirus crisis, there has been a resurgence of NO2 emissions as things begin to normalize after the pandemic.
As per reports, the European Space Agency (ESA) has also seen a drastic reduction in NO2 in northern Italy which has been locked down to fight the deadly coronavirus. Similar drops have also been observed in Barcelona and Madrid in Spain, which is also under lockdown. The novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has claimed more than 13,069 lives across the world and has infected over 3,08,463 people globally since it first broke out in December 2019.
According to NASA China showed a drastic decline in pollution levels in the month of February. The aerial images which were released by NASA along with European Space Agency (ESA) on the former’s website compare the concentration of nitrogen dioxide across China between January 1-20 i.e. period before quarantine and February 10-25 i.e. during the quarantine with results showing the drastic difference.
According to media reports, Nitrogen Dioxide levels typically surge in February as factories reopen and more vehicles take over the roads after the Chinese Lunar year. Fei Liu, an air quality researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in public statement, said that it was the first time that she had seen such a “dramatic drop-off” in NO2. According to NASA, a similar case was observed during the 2008 recession but the decline was gradual. Another case was observed around Beijing during the 2008 Olympics but effects were localized around the Chinese capital.