Since last few weeks, the NASA satellite measurements have shown reductions in air pollution in several parts of the north east US. Apart from the US, the fall in air pollution have been observed in several parts of the world. Te fall in air pollution has come at a very high cost, with people staying indoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Nitrogen dioxide, which is mainly emitted from burning fossil fuels for the purpose of transportation and electricity generation, can help to indicate changes human activity. NASA has also come out with images showing concentrations of atmospheric nitrogen dioxide,measured by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on the US space agency’s Aura satellite, as has been processed by a team at its Goddard Space Flight Center, in Maryland. On the other hand, the left image in the slider suggests average concentration in March of 2015-19. On the other hand, the right image points out the average concentration measured in March 2020.
In the OMI data record, March 2020shows lowest monthly atmospheric nitrogen dioxide levels of any March, that spans 2005 till last month. According to the data, the nitrogen dioxide levels in March 2020 are nearly 30% lower on average across in the region of the I-95 corridor from Washington, DC to Boston than that was compared to the March 2015-19.
An analysis will also be done to constantly quantify the amount of the change seen in the in nitrogen dioxide levels that are associated with shifts in emissions versus natural variations in weather.
The nitrogen dioxide levels, if processed and interpreted properly, can help as a proxy for nitrogen dioxide levels at the Earth’s surface. However, there could be differences in the measurements from space and those that are done at the ground level.
It may also be noted that satellites that helps in measuring nitrogen dioxide cannot see through clouds. Due to this, all data shown is for days with little cloudiness.