NASA Images Show Human Fingerprint on Global Air Quality – Release Materials

  • Released Monday, December 14, 2015

Using new, high-resolution global satellite maps of air quality indicators, NASA scientists tracked air pollution trends over the last decade in various regions and 195 cities around the globe. According to recent NASA research findings, the United States, Europe and Japan have improved air quality thanks to emission control regulations, while China, India and the Middle East, with their fast-growing economies and expanding industry, have seen more air pollution.

Scientists examined observations made from 2005 to 2014 by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument aboard NASA's Aura satellite. One of the atmospheric gases the instrument detects is nitrogen dioxide, a yellow-brown gas that is a common emission from cars, power plants and industrial activity. Nitrogen dioxide can quickly transform into ground-level ozone, a major respiratory pollutant in urban smog. Nitrogen dioxide hotspots, used as an indicator of general air quality, occur over most major cities in developed and developing nations.

The following visualizations include two types of data. The absolute concentrations show the concentration of tropospheric nitrogen dioxide, with blue and green colors denoting lower concentrations and orange and red areas indicating higher concentrations.

The second type of data is the trend data from 2005 to 2014, which shows the observed change in concentration over the ten-year period. Blue indicated an observed decrease in nitrogen dioxide, and orange indicates an observed increase. Please note that the range on the color bars (text is in white) changes from location to location in order to highlight features seen in the different geographic regions.


Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Release date

This page was originally published on Monday, December 14, 2015.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 at 1:49 PM EDT.

Datasets used in this visualization

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