Earth  ID: 4959

Reduction in Tropospheric NOx and Ozone Corresponding to Worldwide COVID-19 Lockdowns

When the world went into lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19, air pollution emissions started to rapidly decrease leaving a global atmospheric fingerprint detected by a team of scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory using satellite measurements. These traces provided an unexpected window into what low-emissions world could look like, thus providing a means for identifying effective environmental policies.

While many countries in the last few decades have implemented environmental policies to reduce human health risk from air pollution by controlling emissions, the impacts of those policies have not always been clear. The global lockdowns in response to COVID-19 represent a well-observed “scenario-of-opportunity” that allows us to assess how atmospheric emission and composition responds to reduced human activity.

COVID-19 lockdowns effectively showed how reducing NOx emissions affects the global atmosphere. Its identifying signature shows up as in the atmosphere’s altered ability to produce harmful ozone pollution and ozone’s reduced influence on Earth’s heat balance that affects climate. These effects are not uniform across the world and depend on the location and season of the emission reductions.

The results of this research indicate that in order to design effective environmental policies which benefit both air quality and climate, decision-makers need to carefully consider the complex relationships between emissions and atmospheric composition.

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Visualization Credits

Trent L. Schindler (USRA): Lead Visualizer
Kazuyuki Miyazaki (JPL): Lead Writer
Ellen T. Gray (ADNET): Writer
Ellen T. Gray (ADNET): Lead Producer
Katie Jepson (KBRwyle): Producer
Kevin Bowman (JPL): Lead Scientist
Kazuyuki Miyazaki (JPL): Scientist
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

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DLESE >> Atmospheric science
DLESE >> Environmental science
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Atmosphere >> Air Quality
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Atmosphere >> Air Quality >> Nitrogen Oxides
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Atmosphere >> Atmospheric Chemistry/Oxygen Compounds >> Ozone
SVS >> Hyperwall
NASA Science >> Earth
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Atmosphere >> Atmospheric Chemistry >> Nitrogen Compounds

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version