In some positive coronavirus news, lockdowns and travel restrictions have seen air pollution levels around the world decrease significantly and as a result, the peaks of the majestic Himalayas can be seen from parts of India for the first time in three decades.
Residents of the Jalandhar district in Punjab – some 200km away – have taken to social media to post photos of the rarely seen mountain views, which for many, would be the first time they have seen them.
India has been in lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19 since 22 March and according to a report from India’s Central Pollution Control Board, air quality in 85 cities had improved significantly due to a massive reduction of vehicle use and the closure of all non-essential businesses.
Before lockdown measures, Indian cities had an average AQI (Air Quality Index) of 115. After three days of lockdown, it had already fallen to 75.
India is not the only place that has seen a significant reduction in air pollution. When China went into strict lockdown after the virus was first detected in Wuhan, the country saw a similar pattern.
According to NASA the concentration of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) – mainly produced by vehicles, industrial sites and thermal power stations – fell dramatically between January and February. The reduction was estimated at between 10-30 per cent.
The European Space Agency also reported the same pattern in northern Italy which went into strict quarantine at the beginning of March. It’s been said that the NO2 concentration levels have been almost halved on average. A drop in emissions is also becoming noticeable in Spain and it is predicted that Australia will eventually follow suit as lockdown measures ramp up.