Satellite images show a sharp drop in air pollution levels over China. American NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have no doubts – this is a partial result of the economic slowdown in the Middle Kingdom caused by the coronavirus epidemic.
Due to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus epidemic, special measures have been introduced in many places in China. Entire cities have been isolated, such as Wuhan in Hubei province, which is considered the epicenter of the Covid-19 epidemic. Production was stopped or limited in thousands of factories, and the activity of Chinese transport decreased. You can read about the detailed impact of the coronavirus on the economy in a special report.
Decrease in pollution
As reported by NASA, the almost two-month standstill in Chinese production has brought noticeable changes to the environment. Scientists report a significant decrease in air pollution with nitrogen dioxide, one of the main components of smog. It coincides with a reduction in factory operations and transport activity in China. – This is the first time I have seen such a drastic decline over such a large area caused by a specific event – comments Fei Liu, a specialist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, responsible for air quality research. He emphasizes that a similar phenomenon, but on a smaller scale, could be observed during the economic recession in 2008, but the decline was rather gradual, not so sudden.
This is what it looks like in Wuhan:
This is a map of NO2 pollution over China:
NASA admits that every year around the Lunar New Year celebrations, i.e. at the turn of January and February, the level of air pollution dropped. However, it always returned to normal levels after the holiday ended. – This year, the level of reduction is larger and more significant than in previous years, and it also lasts longer – commented Fei Liu. She admitted that the whole situation is not a surprise to her, because many cities have taken measures to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.