Air Quality

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Nitrogen Dioxide Comparison Images

  • NO2 - Release Materials
    2014.06.26
    Anyone living in the U.S. for the past decade may have noticed a change in the air. The change is apparent in NASA satellite images that demonstrate the country's reduction of air pollution, or more specifically, nitrogen dioxide.

    Nitrogen dioxide can impact the respiratory system, and it also contributes to the formation of other pollutants including ground-level ozone and particulates. The gas is produced primarily during the combustion of gasoline in vehicle engines and coal in power plants. Air pollution has decreased even though population and the number of cars on the roads have increased. The shift is the result of regulations, technology improvements and economic changes, scientists say.

    This following visualizations show tropospheric column concentrations of nitrogen dioxide as detected by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument on NASA's Aura satellite. Blue and green denote lower concentrations and orange and red areas denote higher concentrations, ranging from 1e+15 to 5e+15 molecules per square centimeter, respectively.

  • Nitrogen Dioxide Reduction Across the Northeast U.S.
    2014.06.26
    Anyone living in the U.S. for the past decade may have noticed a change in the air. The change is apparent in NASA satellite images that demonstrate the country's reduction of air pollution, or more specifically, nitrogen dioxide.

    Nitrogen dioxide can impact the respiratory system, and it also contributes to the formation of other pollutants including ground-level ozone and particulates. The gas is produced primarily during the combustion of gasoline in vehicle engines and coal in power plants. Air pollution has decreased even though population and the number of cars on the roads have increased. The shift is the result of regulations, technology improvements and economic changes, scientists say.

    This visualization shows tropospheric column concentrations of nitrogen dioxide as detected by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument on NASA's Aura satellite, averaged yearly from 2005-2011. Blue and green denote lower concentrations and orange and red areas denote higher concentrations, ranging from 1e+15 to 5e+15 molecules per square centimeter, respectively.

    Along the U.S. East Coast, the relatively flat landscape means almost everyone is downwind of someone else. If wind moves up from the southwest to northeast along the Eastern Seaboard, a so-called "river of pollution" builds up as pollution passes from one city to the next.

  • Nitrogen Dioxide Reduction Across the Northeast Corridor
    2014.06.26
    Anyone living in the U.S. for the past decade may have noticed a change in the air. The change is apparent in NASA satellite images that demonstrate the country's reduction of air pollution, or more specifically, nitrogen dioxide.

    Nitrogen dioxide can impact the respiratory system, and it also contributes to the formation of other pollutants including ground-level ozone and particulates. The gas is produced primarily during the combustion of gasoline in vehicle engines and coal in power plants. Air pollution has decreased even though population and the number of cars on the roads have increased. The shift is the result of regulations, technology improvements and economic changes, scientists say.

    This visualization shows tropospheric column concentrations of nitrogen dioxide as detected by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument on NASA's Aura satellite, averaged yearly from 2005-2011. Blue and green denote lower concentrations and orange and red areas denote higher concentrations, ranging from 1e+15 to 5e+15 molecules per square centimeter, respectively.

    The impact of technology to reduce emissions of nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide from coal-fired power plants in the Ohio River Valley is apparent in satellite imagery, which shows the signal of pollution blink out over time. Still, while air quality is improving, power plant emissions of carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas – remain an issue.

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Additional Resources

  • Earth At Night
    2012.12.05
    In daylight our big blue marble is all land, oceans and clouds. But the night - is electric.

    This view of Earth at night is a cloud-free view from space as acquired by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership Satellite (Suomi NPP). A joint program by NASA and NOAA, Suomi NPP captured this nighttime image by the satellite's Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). The day-night band on VIIRS detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe signals such as city lights, gas flares, and wildfires. This new image is a composite of data acquired over nine days in April and thirteen days in October 2012. It took 312 satellite orbits and 2.5 terabytes of data to get a clear shot of every parcel of land surface.

    This video uses the Earth at night view created by NASA's Earth Observatory with data processed by NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center and combined with a version of the Earth Observatory's Blue Marble: Next Generation.

  • Nitrogen Dioxide from Aura/OMI, 2009-2010
    2013.03.18
    Major sources of tropospheric NO2 include industrial emissions, automobile traffic, forest and brush fires, microbiological soil emissions, lightning, and aircraft. More than half of the total NO2 emissions are estimated to be anthropogenic, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels for energy production, transportation, and industrial activities. NO2 has a relatively short lifetime (about a day) and is therefore concentrated near its sources.
  • Current Earth Observing Fleet
    2015.03.17
    Like orbiting sentinels, NASA’s Earth-observing satellites vigilantly monitor our planet’s ever-changing pulse from their unique vantage points in orbit. This animation shows the orbits of all of the current satellite missions. The flight paths are based on actual orbital elements. These missions—many joint with other nations and/or agencies—are able to collect global measurements of rainfall, solar irradiance, clouds, sea surface height, ocean salinity, and other aspects of the environment. Together, these measurements help scientists better diagnose the “health” of the Earth system.

    This animation will be regularly updated to show the orbits of the current earth observing fleet.

    This most recent version, published in March 2014 includes the recently launched GPM satellite and removes Jason-1 which was decommissioned in 2013.

    Previous versions from recent years include:

    entry 4274 a February 2015 version including SMAP

    entry 3996 a spring 2014 version including GPM

    entry 4070 a May 2013 version which added Landsat-8

    entry 3892 a Dec 2011 version which added Suomi NPP and Aquarius

    entry 3725 a version from June 2010