(TMU) — Satellite images from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have shown a significant drop in pollution over China amidst the unprecedented quarantine as a result of the novel coronavirus that began in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Due to the quarantine, air travel and mass transit has halted as have numerous industries in throughout the country.
Images coming out of some of China’s biggest cities show completely empty city streets in areas that are typically bustling with activity.
NASA images show coronavirus shutdown has cleared China pollution https://t.co/23rcrsy1PW
— Sky News (@SkyNews) February 29, 2020
The maps released by NASA show the change in nitrogen dioxide levels before and after the quarantine. Nitrogen dioxide is a toxic emission from factories, power plants, and vehicles.
China’s emissions hit a record high not long ago in 2018.
The images compare the levels of pollution from the first three weeks of 2020 with that of 10 – 25 of February.
Fei Liu, an air quality researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center said:
“This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event.”
Scientists previously announced that China’s emissions were reduced by at least a quarter during two weeks in February and now we can see proof with our own eyes. According to scientists, the drop first began in the city of Wuhan, the source of the outbreak and the first city to come under quarantine.
While it is difficult to find a silver lining to the situation that millions of residents of China are currently facing, the resulting sharp drop in the burning of fossil fuels and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the country that produces the most certainly is one.
People across the globe have had their eyes glued to China as the outbreak wreaked havoc on everyday life.
Despite the long lasting massive quarantines, comparisons to influenza and other viruses continue to be made in countries that haven’t yet been touched by major interruptions of daily life due to the virus.
In addition to finding a silver lining in the midst of an unprecedented experience, these images serve to remind observers of just how unusual and unparalleled the effect of and response to the virus truly are.