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article imageRising levels of nitrogen dioxide in India affecting air quality

By Karen Graham     Dec 15, 2015 in Environment
Using new, high-resolution global satellite maps of air quality indicators, NASA scientists have tracked air pollution trends over the past decade. The latest maps show emissions of NO2 have gone up significantly over South Asia.
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a yellowish-brown gas. Nitrogen Dioxide is formed when nitric oxide (NO), which is emitted by motor vehicles or other combustion processes, such as power plants and industrial activity, combines with oxygen in the atmosphere.
The United States and Europe are the biggest emitters of NO2, however, there has been a significant reduction in levels recorded between 2004 and 2014. The big story, according to a NASA statement is the increasing NO2 levels in South Asia.
"The main story in South Asia is increasing NO2 levels from 2005 to 2014 associated with booming economies and ambitious infrastructure development, such as new coal-burning power plants in the Chhattisgarh region of India," NASA said in a statement on Monday.
In its statement, NASA said the maps showed the biggest increase in NO2 was over Jamnagar, India, the site of the world's largest petrochemical complex. The city with the largest single increase in NO2 levels in the world was Dhaka, Bangladesh, showing a 79 percent increase.
The Aura atmospheric chemistry satellite celebrated its 10th anniversary on July 15  2015. Since its...
The Aura atmospheric chemistry satellite celebrated its 10th anniversary on July 15, 2015. Since its launch in 2004, Aura has monitored Earth's atmosphere and provided data on the ozone layer, air quality, and greenhouse gases associated with climate change.
NASA/JPL
NASA's Aura atmospheric chemistry satellite
The Aura atmospheric chemistry satellite celebrated its 10th anniversary on July 15 this year, and the information and imagery it has sent back is amazing. Using the four high-tech instruments on-board the satellite, NASA has been able to measure the Earth's atmosphere and compile data on the ozone layer, air quality, and greenhouse gasses associated with climate change.
NASA has tracked air pollution trends for the past 10 years in a number of regions and 195 cities around the planet. Lead researcher Bryan Duncan, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland said the changes in the air quality patterns being seen are not random.
“When governments step in and say we are going to build something here or we are going to regulate this pollutant, you see the impact in the data,” Duncan noted. Pollution observations were made during 2004-2014 using data collected using the Dutch-Finnish ozone monitoring instrument aboard NASA's Aura satellite. Nitrogen dioxide is just one of the gasses the instrument can detect.
The NASA team also found that China, a growing manufacturing player, saw an increase of 20 to 50 percent in Nitrogen dioxide, much of it over the northern China plain. Interestingly, in Beijing, Shanghai, and the Pearl River Delta, there was an almost 40 percent decrease in NO2 levels.
NASA's findings were presented at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, California on Monday, and published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.
More about nitrogen dioxide, rising levels in india, us and europe biggest polluters, South asia, ozone and particulate matter
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