COVID-19 Mitigation Leads to Reduced Pollution Associated with Decreased Fossil Fuel Use

June 3, 2020
CreditNASA's Scientific Visualization Studio The Blue Marble data is courtesy of Reto Stockli (NASA/GSFC).
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June 1, 2020

Over the past several weeks, the United States has seen significant reductions in air pollution over its major metropolitan areas. Similar reductions in air pollution have been observed in other regions of the world. These recent improvements in air quality have come at a high cost, as communities grapple with widespread lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders as a result of the spread of COVID-19.

One air pollutant, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), is primarily emitted from burning fossil fuels (diesel, gasoline, coal), coming out of our tailpipes when driving cars and smokestacks when generating electricity. Therefore, changes in NO2 levels can be used as an indicator of changes in human activity.

This animation shows the change in atmospheric (NO2) levels as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns.

Get more information and visuals and download the video here.