Satellite images show China's 'dramatic' air pollution drop-off after coronavirus shutdown

Incredible satellite images from NASA have shown pollution over China has cleared due to the coronavirus epidemic closing factories and keeping people inside their homes.

The Chinese government enforced strict curfews and isolation policies to curtail the spread of the deadly virus that has killed one Australian and more than 2850 people globally.

This has partly led to a decrease in nitrogen dioxide levels over the past eight weeks, according to NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).

This map shows the dramatic difference in nitrogen dioxide pollution over China in January and February. Source: NASA/European Space Agency

An air quality researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre said it was the first time they had seen “such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event”.

NASA and the ESA used pollution monitoring satellites to analyse the changes and then released two maps to show the differences.

The first map shows how Beijing and Shanghai was covered with large clouds of gas for most of January.

In the second map from February, this drastically changed after the air cleared when coronavirus epicentre Wuhan and other areas were put in lockdown.

These photos compare air pollution in satellite images from 2019 and 2020. Source: NASA/European Space Agency

The levels of nitrogen dioxide, which is emitted by cars and factories, initially started to drop in Wuhan when roads and businesses were shut.

The drop in nitrogen dioxide was also helped by new environmental regulations and the Lunar New Year holiday when people were off work.

The number of people sickened by the virus climbed to more than 85,000 globally on Saturday.

— Yahoo News UK

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