The rapid expansion of the Chinese economy is making its mark on the environment. Atmospheric pollution due to the release of nitrogen oxides from fossil fuel and biomass burning is expected to decrease in most industrialized countries but in some parts of the world rapid economic development could have the opposite effect. Satellite observations over the period 1996–2004 now provide confirmation of these predictions.
Across parts of Europe and North America there have been dramatic reductions in nitrogen oxide concentrations in the lower atmosphere (the troposphere). But there was a significant increase of about 50% — with an accelerating trend in annual growth rate — over the industrial areas of China; this is much larger than predictions made based on emission inventories.
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