According to a study conducted by researchers from Greece and abroad, from 2008 until today, a drastic limitation up to 40% of pollutants in the atmosphere has been observed, due to the reduction in anthropogenic activity.
One of the authors of the study, Evangelos Gerasopoulos, Director of the Institute of Environmental Research and Sustainable Development of the National Observatory of Athens, explains that the progressive limitation of several pollutants was evident during the last decades as a result of the socioeconomic measures taken by the State. He also explained that “from the onset of the financial crisis, a significant acceleration in the pace of decline is observed. Some pollutants are reducing at a three times higher rate than before, while others show eightfold acceleration in reduction.”
One of the most impressive results was obtained by the measurements of nitrogen dioxide (NO2): Its reduced pace during the period 2007-2011 was sevenfold in comparison to previous years. This is attributed to the fact that NO2 is mainly associated with the movement of vehicles, which has also been significantly limited over the last five years, due to the high cost of gasoline. The total NO2 reduction during those years is estimated to be about 30-40%.
The rates of sulfur dioxide (SO2), which are associated with industrial activitiy, were also reduced. The SO2 reduction rates were three times higher in comparison to the past. In contrast, the average ozone levels showed an increase, due to the reduced anthropogenic emissions, which contribute to its limitation in the atmosphere.
What is particularly interesting, as mentioned by Mihalis Vrekoussis, researcher at the Centre of Energy, Environment and Water Research of the Cyprus Institute, and lead author of the study, is that those results are evident even from Space. “We used observations from three satellite sensors and ground-based networks and all the data showed significant acceleration in the pollution reduction from 2007 onwards”, he said.
Apart from Vrekoussis and Gerasopoulos, the following researchers have also participated in the project: A. Richter, A. Hillboll, J.P. Burrows, J. Lelieveld, L. Barrie, Ch. Zerefos and N. Michalopoulos.