Worldwide restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic caused huge reductions in travel and other economic activities, resulting in lower emissions.
Earth’s atmosphere reacted in surprising ways to the lowering of emissions during the pandemic, showing how closely climate warming and air pollution are linked.
The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting limitations on travel and other economic sectors by countries around the globe drastically decreased air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions within just a few weeks. That sudden change gave scientists an unprecedented view of results that would take regulations years to achieve.
A comprehensive new survey of the effects of the pandemic on the atmosphere, using satellite data from NASA and other international space agencies, reveals some unexpected findings. The study also offers insights into addressing the dual threats of climate warming and air pollution. “We’re past the point where we can think of these as two separate problems,” said Joshua Laughner, lead author of the new study and a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech in Pasadena, California. “To understand what is driving changes to the atmosphere, we must consider how air quality and climate influence each other.”
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