On March 19, California was one of the first states to set mandatory stay-at-home restrictions in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. Arizona and Nevada followed suit around April 1.

The Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on board NASA's Aura satellite provided data that indicate that these restrictions have led to about a 31% decrease in NO2 levels in the Los Angeles basin relative to previous years.

NO2, or nitrogen dioxide, is an air pollutant measured by OMI. The estimated reductions for other cities in the Southwest U.S. before and after the quarantine restrictions are 22% for the San Francisco Bay Area; 25% for San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico; 16% for Phoenix; and 10% for Las Vegas.

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) Decreases Over American Southwest

The slider above shows satellite estimates of NO2 from Aura’s Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) as an average of March 25 through April 25. The left image shows the mean of the 150-day period from 2015 through 2019, while the right image shows the mean of the 30-day period for 2020. Credit: NASA

For more information on NASA's air quality research, visit https://aura.gsfc.nasa.gov.

The visual for this article and other regions can be downloaded from NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio.

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Peter Jacobs
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