Pollution-monitoring satellites operated by NASA and the European Space Agency observed drastic decreases in air pollution over China over a two-week period in February when the quarantine was in effect. The satellites measured concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, which is released by cars, power plants and industrial facilities, from Jan. 1 to Jan. 20, and then again from Feb. 10 to Feb. 25. The difference was unmistakable.


Concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere over Italy also fell precipitously, as it did in China. An analysis by The Washington Post found that the most dramatic dropoff was observed over northern Italy.

Coronavirus shutdowns have unintended climate benefits: cleaner air, clearer water

There's an unlikely beneficiary of coronavirus: The planet

jbr's picture

Los Angeles has notoriously polluted air. But right now...

But with the city -- and the entire state of California -- under stay-at-home orders to stem the deadly outbreak of coronavirus, something dramatic has happened to the air in LA.

On Tuesday, LA saw some of the cleanest air of any major city in the world, according to IQAir, a Swiss air quality technology company which also monitors pollution levels in cities around the globe.

Los Angeles has notoriously polluted air. But right now it has some of the cleanest of any major city

fischbobber's picture

The irony of the plague and distancing.

Now that everyone is staying home and not driving folks are going to parks in the clean air that's there, I mean, it's really nice outside. And lots of folks. Lots and lots of folks. Every trip we make has a blue gazillion errands attached to it. Get'em, get done, and get back. We drove by the lake to come home from Benton's and scout boat launches and fishing. Packed. If you plan on distancing, I strongly recommend scouting before planning a solitary activity.

jbr's picture

Air pollution has dropped by 30% in the Northeast, NASA says

Stanford University's Marshall Burke also noted in March that "the reductions in air pollution in China caused by this economic disruption likely saved 20 times more lives in China than have currently been lost due to infection with the virus in that country."

Air pollution has dropped by 30% in the Northeast, NASA says. Are coronavirus stay-at-home orders responsible?

jmcnair's picture


Wrong link?

jbr's picture

I dont think I am allowed to

I dont think I am allowed to change it. Here is right link ...

Images of Venice from space show how coronavirus has changed the city's iconic canals

jbr's picture

The 2020 declines were staggering

The 2020 declines were staggering.

A study published last month in the journal Nature Climate Change found that global carbon dioxide emissions last year fell by 7 percent compared to 2019. And about a year ago, a paper published in the same journal estimated that in April 2020, at the height of pandemic-related lockdowns in Asia, Europe and North America, daily global carbon dioxide emissions plummeted by 17 percent compared to 2019.

"Seven percent is actually a big drop in emissions for one year," said Le Quéré, the lead author of both studies. "In absolute numbers, that's 2.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide. That's never been seen before."

Did the pandemic show us that we can cut carbon emissions? Sort of.

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