Pollution Level Changed This Year Globally Due To COVID-19

The year 2020, a remarkable year for everyone. It changed our lives completely with the COVID-19 spread all over the globe. Most of us stayed in our homes and this helped our earth to heal and take a deep breath.

Image Source – NASA

As the COVID-19 occurred NASA’s ground and space observation has concluded that some air pollutants have decreased in the earth’s atmosphere. With this effect, the questions arise –

How much of the air pollutants decreased due to the COVID-19 effect, and what would have been the result without the pandemic effect?

NASA presented a computer model that showed the result of atmospheric composition with and without the pandemic which concluded that the earth needed fewer humans than it has now. The pandemic has decreased the global nitrogen dioxide present in the atmosphere by almost 20%.

The conclusion of the analysis was presented at the 2020 International Conference for High-Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis.

Christoph Andrea Keller the lead author of the study said “We all knew the lockdowns were going to have an impact on air quality. It was also soon clear that it was going to be difficult to quantify how much of that change is related to the lockdown measures, versus general seasonality or variability in pollution.”

A simulated model was arranged at NASA Center for Climate Simulation and a research analysis was performed there. A different version of 2020 was shown where no changes were seen in human activities due to the pandemic. The result was obtained by calculating the difference between the model values and the observed ground values. The result then gave a conclusion to the change in the emission of pollutants in the atmosphere.

Data were received from 46 countries with a total of 5,756 observations. 50 of the 61 analyzed cities show a decrease of 20-50% nitrogen dioxide.

Christoph Andrea Keller said “In some ways, I was surprised by how much it dropped. 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.”

COVID-19 was first seen in Wuhan, China and so it was the first place to observe the decrease in nitrogen dioxide emissions in the atmosphere which was about 60% lower than what the simulated models presented.

Image showing the decrease of nitrogen dioxide in Wuhan, China / Image Source – nasa

Emma Knowland with USRA at Goddard’s GMAO said “You could, at times, even see the decrease in nitrogen dioxide before the official policies went into place. People were probably reducing their transit because the talk of the COVID-19 threat was already happening before we were told to shut down.”

The GEOS model data used in the research is now available. Nitrogen dioxide is produced mainly by transportation and industries. Well, the pandemic puts a break to it which was good for our atmosphere to heal and take a deep breath. It is expected that the world will understand now how pollutants are destroying our atmosphere and try to decrease it.

Source – nasa

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