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OMI detected SO2 change over India after national lockdown

2017-2019 SO2 in India 2020 SO2 in India
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Figure caption: India recently became the world’s largest emitter of sulfur dioxide (SO2). The highest SO2 levels are over eastern India and primarily associated with electricity generation. Other sources in India include the ceramics industry. The slider above shows satellite data of SO2 from Aura’s Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI), averaging levels between March 25 and April 25. The image on the left shows the mean SO2 levels for 2017-2019, while the image on the right shows the mean for 2020. The decrease in SO2 levels in 2020 mostly reflect decreased power generation, likely attributed to the shuttering of businesses during India’s stay-at-home order. Independent estimates indicate that electricity generation for India was down about 10% and 25% in March and April 2020, respectively, as compared to March and April 2019. Another pollutant, NO2, is also emitted during thermal power generation and also showed a decrease in 2020 relative to previous years. One exception for SO2 is in southern India and it could be related to increased thermal power generation that came on line before the stay-at-home order. However, NO2 appears to not have had a similar increase over the area. More analysis is required to understand the cause. The images are free and publicly-available and may be downloaded.