PUBLISHED: 12:19, Mon, Mar 2, 2020 | UPDATED: 13:41, Mon, Mar 2, 2020
The NASA maps show how levels of nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas from vehicles, power plants and factories, plummeted after the mass quarantine, compared with before. Confirmed coronavirus cases now number at least 89,798 victims and there have been 3,069 deaths.
Experts now believe coronavirus reduced at least a quarter of China’s emissions of damaging greenhouse gases in just a fortnight last month.
This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event
Dr Lei Liu
Closing industrial plants and ordering suspected patients to stay at home has led to steep falls in the burning of fossil fuels — a key contributor to the climate change — in the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases.
NASA space maps compare pollution levels between the first three weeks of the year and February 10 to 25.
The space agency’s scientists reveal the pollution plummet was first apparent near Wuhan, the source of the outbreak, where it quickly spread across China.
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NASA news: satellite maps show China pollution plummet over coronavirus shutdown (Image: Getty)
NASA news: Map shows the extent of Chinese pollution drop due to coronavirus (Image: NASA )
Dr Lei Liu, an air quality researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre, said: “This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event.”
The scientist said she had witnessed a similar decline in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels during the economic recession of 2008 but added that decrease was more gradual.
Although the 2020 fall coincided with the Lunar New Year, when factories and businesses close, but researchers believe the decline is far greater than could be attributed to the holiday period.