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Amid Coronavirus Lockdown, Air Pollution Levels In North India Hit 20-year-Low: NASA

Aerosols are tiny solid and liquid particles suspended in the air that reduce visibility and can damage the human lungs and heart

Amid Coronavirus Lockdown, Air Pollution Levels In North India Hit 20-year-Low: NASA
Highlights
  • Aerosol decrease was observed in first week of the shutdown: NASA official
  • Heavy rain in northern India helped clear the air of aerosols
  • In southern India, aerosol levels have not yet decreased to the same extent

Washington DC: Air pollution over northern India has plummeted to a 20-year-low for this time of the year, according to satellite data published by US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The US space agency’s satellite sensors observed aerosol levels at a 20-year low post the countrywide lockdown, implemented to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Also Read: Coronavirus Lockdown: As People Stay Home, Earth Turns Wilder And Cleaner

“We knew we would see changes in atmospheric composition in many places during the lockdown,” said Pawan Gupta, a Universities Space Research Association (USRA) scientist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. “But I have never seen aerosol values so low in the Indo-Gangetic Plain at this time of year,” added Mr Gupta.

Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice G Wells tweeted, “These images from NASA were taken each spring starting in 2016 and show a 20-year low in airborne particle levels over India. When India and the world are ready to work and travel again, let’s not forget that collaborative action can result in cleaner air.”

Also Read: Coronavirus Lockdown: 88 Cities Continue To Record Minimal Air Pollution With Restrictions In Place

The data published with maps show aerosol optical depth (AOD) in 2020 compared to the average for 2016-2019. Aerosol optical depth is a measure of how light is absorbed or reflected by airborne particles as it travels through the atmosphere.

If aerosols are concentrated near the surface, an optical depth of 1 or above indicates very hazy conditions. An optical depth, or thickness, of less than 0.1 over the entire atmospheric vertical column is considered “clean.” The data were retrieved by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite.

Also Read: Air Pollution In India Improves Amid Lockdown Due To Coronavirus

In the first few days of the lockdown, it was difficult to observe a change in the pollution signature.

We saw an aerosol decrease in the first week of the shutdown, but that was due to a combination of rain and the lockdown, said Mr Gupta.

Around March 27, heavy rain poured over vast areas of northern India and helped clear the air of aerosols. Aerosol concentrations usually increase again after such heavy precipitation.

After the rainfall, I was really impressed that aerosol levels did not go up and return to normal. We saw a gradual decrease and things have been staying at the level we might expect without anthropogenic emissions, Mr Gupta said.

Also Read: India May Face Kidney Diseases Due To Air Pollution: Researchers

On March 25, the Indian government placed its 1.3 billion citizens under a strict lockdown to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The countrywide mandate decreased activity at factories and severely reduced car, bus, truck and airplane traffic. Every year, aerosols from anthropogenic (human-made) sources contribute to unhealthy levels of air pollution in many Indian cities.

Aerosols are tiny solid and liquid particles suspended in the air that reduce visibility and can damage the human lungs and heart.

In southern India though, the story is a little hazier. Satellite data show aerosol levels have not yet decreased to the same extent. In fact, levels seem to be slightly higher than in the past four years. The reasons are unclear but could be related to recent weather patterns, agricultural fires, winds or other factors.

“This a model scientific experiment,” Robert Levy, program leader for NASA’s MODIS aerosol products, said about the lockdown and its effects on pollution.

We have a unique opportunity to learn how the atmosphere reacts to sharp and sudden reductions in emissions from certain sectors. This can help us separate how natural and human sources of aerosols affect the atmosphere, Mr Levy added.

Also Read: Air Pollution Crisis: 21 Of World’s 30 Most Polluted Cities Are In India, Says The New Report

World

26,14,68,997Cases
22,22,61,229Active
3,40,08,183Recovered
51,99,585Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 196 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 26,14,68,997 and 51,99,585 have died; 22,22,61,229 are active cases and 3,40,08,183 have recovered as on November 29, 2021 at 3:42 am.

India

3,45,72,523 8,774Cases
1,05,6911,328Active
3,39,98,278 9,481Recovered
4,68,554 621Deaths
In India, there are 3,45,72,523 confirmed cases including 4,68,554 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,05,691 and 3,39,98,278 have recovered as on November 28, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

66,33,612 507

11,905 248

64,80,799 738

1,40,908 17

Kerala

51,29,359 4,741

49,152 957

50,40,528 5,144

39,679 554

Karnataka

29,95,285 322

6,783 143

29,50,306 176

38,196 3

Tamil Nadu

27,24,731 740

8,382 36

26,79,895 765

36,454 11

Andhra Pradesh

20,72,446 248

2,158 5

20,55,856 253

14,432

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,373 5

86 5

16,87,377 9

22,910 1

West Bengal

16,14,152 701

7,820 27

15,86,882 717

19,450 11

Delhi

14,40,834 27

290 11

14,15,448 37

25,096 1

Odisha

10,48,492 264

2,222 6

10,37,864 255

8,406 3

Chhattisgarh

10,06,733 27

326 7

9,92,814 20

13,593

Rajasthan

9,54,741 26

187 13

9,45,599 13

8,955

Gujarat

8,27,382 28

291 17

8,16,999 45

10,092

Madhya Pradesh

7,93,120 23

112 9

7,82,480 14

10,528

Haryana

7,71,654 11

159 1

7,61,441 10

10,054

Bihar

7,26,212 3

39 6

7,16,510 9

9,663

Telangana

6,75,479 160

3,545 11

6,67,946 148

3,988 1

Assam

6,16,435 123

2,720 71

6,07,624 189

6,091 5

Punjab

6,03,190 17

313 22

5,86,284 39

16,593

Jharkhand

3,49,216 20

109 0

3,43,967 20

5,140

Uttarakhand

3,44,183 14

150 6

3,36,626 8

7,407

Jammu And Kashmir

3,36,386 149

1,724 5

3,30,189 141

4,473 3

Himachal Pradesh

2,26,941 82

809 18

2,22,287 97

3,845 3

Goa

1,78,839 40

275 9

1,75,183 31

3,381

Mizoram

1,34,279 358

4,117 110

1,29,672 466

490 2

Puducherry

1,28,860 35

326 5

1,26,662 30

1,872

Manipur

1,25,117 19

673 1

1,22,474 18

1,970 2

Tripura

84,784 13

89 9

83,874 3

821 1

Meghalaya

84,414 20

308 27

82,635 44

1,471 3

Chandigarh

65,443 5

52 4

64,571 1

820

Arunachal Pradesh

55,269 9

37 4

54,952 5

280

Sikkim

32,211 4

114 5

31,694 9

403

Nagaland

32,100 4

135 1

31,269 5

696

Ladakh

21,494 27

249 6

21,032 21

213

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,683

1 0

10,678

4

Lakshadweep

10,394

28 1

10,315 1

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,680 2

5 2

7,546

129

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