Lockdown increased ozone concentration over Punjab: Experts
Scientists at Punjab Remote Sensing Centre say the state’s ozone concentration improved and nitrogen dioxide, an air pollutant, saw a dip during the lockdownUpdated: Apr 29, 2020 02:35 IST
While the lockdown has brought unprecedented economic miseries to people from all walks of life, it seems have had a positive effect on the environment. Punjab Remote Sensing Centre, the state’s satellite monitoring agency, claims that the lockdown has stalled the climate change momentum due to a drop in carbon emissions.
A team of scientists, including Dr Brijendra Pateriya, Dr R K Setia and Anush Kumar, analysed the data shared by the European space agency (Copernicus Sentinel-5P ) on the concentration of atmospheric gases over Punjab from March 1 to March 22, and during the lockdown period from March 23 to April 20, and found a variable effect of the curfew on ozone concentration in Punjab.
“It was observed that there was an increase in ozone concentration on March 28 and April 3, as compared to the ozone concentration on March 1, but it decreased on April 14 and had variable effects thereafter. It is an unusual phenomenon. We have not observed such a variation before,” said Dr Setia.
Dr Brijendra Pateriya said similar studies had been carried out in China and European countries to check the impact of no carbon emission on environment during the lockdown period. “The results were staggering. There has been a significant drop in nitrogen dioxide, a chemical produced from power plants, vehicles and industrial activity that can be harmful to human health and cause respiratory issues. Besides the considerably negligible carbon emission, what helped was that there was no farm fire recorded during this period,” said Dr Pateriya.
The analysis of satellite images also showed that the effect of curfew on average concentration of atmospheric gases was prominent in urban areas more than rural pockets.
“During the analysis of images, a significant decrease of 40-50% in concentration of nitrogen dioxide (an air pollutant) was witnessed over major cities across Punjab, including Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar, as compared to the same time frame last year,” said Dr Pateriya. He added that the drop in emissions and nitrogen dioxide levels could provide a huge respite for people suffering from asthma, bronchitis and other breathing disorders.