NewsNational News


Global emissions down due to coronavirus response

Posted: 4:47 PM, Mar 25, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-25 19:50:35-04
States sue to block EPA's coal power plant emissions rollback

With more and more of us working from home and avoiding travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, an unintended result is happening: less air pollution in our atmosphere.

In China, a drastic drop in nitrogen dioxide was observed by the European Space Agency's Sentinel-5 satellite between early January and late February. Nitrogen dioxide forms from emissions of cars, trucks, buses, and power plants, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

NASA scientists first noticed the reduction over Wuhan before spreading throughout the country.

global emmisions china.png
Nitrogen dioxide comparison in China from Jan 1 - Feb 25, 2020 Source: NASA Earth Observatory, Joshua Stevens, Copernicus Sentinel 5P/ESA

A similar event is happening in Italy due to the pandemic. With the nation under lockdown, a decline in nitrogen dioxide has been significantly noticeable in the northern part of the country, according to the European Space Agency, or ESA.

Animations of the change in nitrogen dioxide emissions over Italy from January to March can be found here:

Now, the United States is beginning to notice the reduced emissions, especially in areas hardest hit by the pandemic.

This image from Earther already shows what impacts coronavirus and the resulting shelter-in-place/quarantine has had on nitrogen dioxide emissions in California and here in Arizona.

global emmisons arizona.png
Nitrogen dioxide emissions in the West from Jan 20 - Mar 20, 2020

An interactive map showing the changes in emissions worldwide can be found here: