The lockdown implemented due to the novel coronavirus outbreak saw a significant decrease in the greenhouse gases and CO2 emission from fossil fuel in several countries. The effect was seen in India as well.
Several space agencies including the USA’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Japan’s Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) worked together to study the various changes regions went through during the lockdown period.
Earth-observing satellites were employed to track changes in economic activity, air and water quality, climatic changes and effect on agriculture.
NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite and Japan’s Greenhouse gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT) recorded changes in the carbon dioxide emission in several cities like Mumbai, Beijing, Tokyo, and New York. The results showed very small differences, ranging in between 0.5 parts per million, or 0.125 percent reductions in CO2 over each area.
Initially, the presence of CO2 in the atmosphere was found to have been reduced in India but the overall composition in the environment, not so much.
A significant drop in nitrogen dioxide NO2 was seen in specific cities of New Delhi and Mumbai as well. This bore its origins in the reduced trafficular and industrial emissions. However, the North east cities saw consistent NO2 levels due to prevalence of coal powered plants.
Some of the major cities that saw nearly a 50 per cent drop in NO2 emissions were Milan, Rome, Paris and Madrid. This is because of the strict lockdown implemented in Europe.