Accessibility links

Breaking News

NASA Satellite Spots Less Air Pollution on US East Coast

FILE - An artist's conception of NASA's Aura satellite in orbit.
FILE - An artist's conception of NASA's Aura satellite in orbit.

Scientists with the U.S. space agency NASA say recent satellite data are showing as much as a 30 percent drop in air pollution along the U.S. East Coast compared with the same time last year.

Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, studied March's data from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument, which is onboard the agency’s Aura satellite.

The team said the data showed that levels of nitrogen oxide – a key indicator of air pollution caused by human activity – from Washington to the south and Boston to the north were at their lowest level for any March since 2005, when they began recording such data.

NASA said similar drops have been recorded elsewhere in the world in recent weeks, particularly in coronavirus hot spots such as Italy and China, where widespread lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders have been implemented.

The scientists noted that variations in weather from year to year also can affect monthly averages of nitrogen oxide and other materials in the atmosphere. They said they would conduct further analysis to determine exactly what caused the drop.