Lower Atmosphere Ozone Dropped 7% During COVID-19 Pandemic, Study Finds

The results of the new study contrast with ground level findings from recent studies in congested cities.


During spring and summer of 2020, ozone at 1-8 kilometers (0.6-5 miles) above Earth’s surface fell by 7% on average across the Northern Hemisphere, a new study finds. The decrease is likely explained by curtailed transportation due to COVID-19 quarantines, according to the report, published in Geophysical Research Letters, AGU’s journal for high-impact, short-format reports with immediate implications spanning all Earth and space sciences.

Worldwide, surface traffic emissions went down by 14% and air-traffic emissions by 40% on average in 2020.

The new study analyzed data from weather balloons and remote sensing instruments from 45 stations. Many of the observatories saw similar ozone decreases in this layer of the atmosphere, to levels which had not been recorded in two decades.

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