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Open AccessArticle

Examining the Economic and Environmental Impacts of COVID-19 Using Earth Observation Data

1
Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA
2
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 5200 Auth Rd., Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA
3
I. M. Systems Group, 5830 University Research Court, College Park, MD 20740, USA
4
Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
5
BlueDot Inc., Toronto, ON M5J 1A7, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13010005
Received: 28 September 2020 / Revised: 15 December 2020 / Accepted: 17 December 2020 / Published: 22 December 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Night-Time Light)
The COVID-19 pandemic has infected almost 73 million people and is responsible for over 1.63 million fatalities worldwide since early December 2019, when it was first reported in Wuhan, China. In the early stages of the pandemic, social distancing measures, such as lockdown restrictions, were applied in a non-uniform way across the world to reduce the spread of the virus. While such restrictions contributed to flattening the curve in places like Italy, Germany, and South Korea, it plunged the economy in the United States to a level of recession not seen since WWII, while also improving air quality due to the reduced mobility. Using daily Earth observation data (Day/Night Band (DNB) from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Suomi-NPP and NO2 measurements from the TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument TROPOMI) along with monthly averaged cell phone derived mobility data, we examined the economic and environmental impacts of lockdowns in Los Angeles, California; Chicago, Illinois; Washington DC from February to April 2020—encompassing the most profound shutdown measures taken in the U.S. The preliminary analysis revealed that the reduction in mobility involved two major observable impacts: (i) improved air quality (a reduction in NO2 and PM2.5 concentration), but (ii) reduced economic activity (a decrease in energy consumption as measured by the radiance from the DNB data) that impacted on gross domestic product, poverty levels, and the unemployment rate. With the continuing rise of COVID-19 cases and declining economic conditions, such knowledge can be combined with unemployment and demographic data to develop policies and strategies for the safe reopening of the economy while preserving our environment and protecting vulnerable populations susceptible to COVID-19 infection. View Full-Text
Keywords: COVID-19; earth observation data; nitrogen dioxide (NO2); night light imagery (VIIRS); mobility; environmental impacts COVID-19; earth observation data; nitrogen dioxide (NO2); night light imagery (VIIRS); mobility; environmental impacts
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MDPI and ACS Style

Straka, W., III; Kondragunta, S.; Wei, Z.; Zhang, H.; Miller, S.D.; Watts, A. Examining the Economic and Environmental Impacts of COVID-19 Using Earth Observation Data. Remote Sens. 2021, 13, 5. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13010005

AMA Style

Straka W III, Kondragunta S, Wei Z, Zhang H, Miller SD, Watts A. Examining the Economic and Environmental Impacts of COVID-19 Using Earth Observation Data. Remote Sensing. 2021; 13(1):5. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13010005

Chicago/Turabian Style

Straka, William, III; Kondragunta, Shobha; Wei, Zigang; Zhang, Hai; Miller, Steven D.; Watts, Alexander. 2021. "Examining the Economic and Environmental Impacts of COVID-19 Using Earth Observation Data" Remote Sens. 13, no. 1: 5. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13010005

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