The coronavirus outbreak is still ongoing despite our best attempts to contain it. As a result, many places have been locked down and people have been sent home in quarantine. Photos out of China have depicted Wuhan, which is the epicenter for the virus, as a ghost town as many business have shut down and residents sent home.
While the virus is no doubt bad for us humans, it seems that as a consequence of the virus and the quarantines, it has done wonders for air pollution. According to NASA’s satellites, it seems that air pollution in China has decreased drastically following the virus outbreak. As you can see in the image above, the map to the left shows the air pollution levels before the virus, and the map to the right shows the air pollution levels after the outbreak.
According to Fei Liu, an air quality researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, “This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event.” That being said, we imagine that this drop in air pollution will only be temporary. Once a cure or vaccine has been found, it should be back to business as usual.
According to NASA air quality scientist Barry Lefer, decreases in air pollution typically happens during the Lunar New Year where businesses shut down for the holidays, but we suppose a brief respite isn’t a bad thing.