The dark cloud with a silver lining: Assessing the impact of the SARS COVID-19 pandemic on the global environment
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The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by a novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 has caused tremendous suffering and huge economic losses. We hypothesized that extreme measures of partial-to-total shutdown might have influenced the quality of the global environment because of decreased emissions of atmospheric pollutants. We tested this hypothesis using satellite imagery, climatic datasets (temperature, and absolute humidity), and COVID-19 cases available in the public domain. While the majority of the cases were recorded from Western countries, where mortality rates were strongly positively correlated with age, the number of cases in tropical regions was relatively lower than European and North American regions, possibly attributed to faster human-to-human transmission. There was a substantial reduction in the level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2: 0.00002 mol m−2 ), a low reduction in CO (b0.03 mol m−2 ), and a low-tomoderate reduction in Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD: ~0.1–0.2) in the major hotspots of COVID-19 outbreak during February–March 2020, which may be attributed to the mass lockdowns. Our study projects an increasing coverage of high COVID-19 hazard at absolute humidity levels ranging from 4 to 9 g m−3 across a large part of the globe during April–July 2020 due to a high prospective meteorological suitability for COVID-19 spread. Our findings suggest that there is ample scope for restoring the global environment from the ill-effects of anthropogenic activities through temporary shutdown measures.
Link to resourcehttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.139297
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