SNHS Spotlight: Covid-19 Has Caused a Decrease in Global Air Pollution

While the coronavirus has brought upon many negative impacts to today’s society, something good has finally come out of this pandemic. During March of 2020, lockdowns were put in place in order to protect the safety of citizens. This meant less cars on the road, factories stopping production, and limited airplanes soaring through the sky. All of these previous factors contribute to air pollution. Air pollution is the gases and chemicals that are released into the air when burning fossil fuels. Researchers realized that with the lockdown there would be a decrease in air pollution however, they could not determine the extent in which it would occur.

 Credits: NASA’s Earth Observatory 

NASA has taken a closer look on exactly how air pollution has declined. No two years are exactly the same regarding how much air pollution accumulates. The researchers from NASA predicted what 2020 would have looked like with the normal standards. They used this in comparison to what air pollution actually looked like in 2020. Researchers used data from 46 countries. In total there were 5,757 observation sites on the ground between the 46 countries. What they found is that the pandemic reduced global nitrogen dioxide levels by almost 20 percent. Christoph Keller is a part of Universities Space Research Association (USRA) at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Many people including Keller, were shocked to find out how much the nitrogen dioxide level dropped. While in the past many countries have attempted to lower their concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, this pandemic has shed light on the fact that the cause of this is still due to human contribution. The results that researchers found were then presented at the International Conference for High Performance Computing.

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By: Samantha Campana’22, SNHS Member

Categories: SNHS