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NASA Satellite Images Reveal The Most Polluted Countries In The World

17/12/2015 09:47 GMT | Updated 17/12/2015 09:59 GMT

Satellite images from NASA's Aura satellite have revealed the huge changes in air pollution that have taken place across the globe including significant reductions over the last 10 years.

nasa

Using high-resolution mapping techniques NASA were able to create a global map of air pollution showing the incredible effect that human action can have on the levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air.

Europe overall might still be one of the nitrogen dioxide hotspots in the world but what you're looking at is around a 50 per cent reduction in air pollution over the last 10 years.

nasa

Scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center have pinpointed the cause for the drop to tightening regulations on emissions for cars and energy production, and this is despite the VW emissions scandal.

The United States also saw some really positive drops with decreases in major metropolitan areas of between 20-50 per cent - again through the tightening of regulations.

While these are clearly good news stories there's also cause for concern - China has seen a 20-50 per cent increase of nitrogen dioxide production over the last 10 years thanks in part to its huge reliance on coal for electricity production.

china air pollution

China faces something of a rock and a hard place though as its growing middle class demands better air quality for the country, resulting in some anomalous drops in nitrogen levels in some of China's most populated cities.

What's most fascinating though is the story that these maps show, in the middle east for example nitrogen levels have dropped drastically in Syria and the surrounding areas.

middle east

The drops are the result of not only the conflict in the country but also the huge displacement of the country's population. With millions of refugees NASA is actually able to track their movements by seeing where nitrogen dioxide levels have suddenly increased in surrounding countries.