Levels of air pollutants and warming gases over some cities and regions are showing significant drops as coronavirus impacts work and travel.
Researchers in New York told the BBC their early results showed carbon monoxide mainly from cars had been reduced by nearly 50% compared with last year.
Emissions of the planet-heating gas CO2 have also fallen sharply.
But there are warnings levels could rise rapidly after the pandemic.
With global economic activity ramping down as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it is hardly surprising that emissions of a variety of gases related to energy and transport would be reduced.
Scientists say that by May, when CO2 emissions are at their peak thanks to the decomposition of leaves, the levels recorded might be the lowest since the financial crisis over a decade ago.
Although there are a number of caveats to these findings, they echo the environmental impacts connected to the virus outbreaks in China and in Italy.
An analysis carried out for the climate website Carbon Brief suggested there had been a 25% drop in energy use and emissions in China over a two week period. This is likely to lead to an overall fall of about 1% in China’s carbon emissions this year, experts believe.
Both China and Northern Italy have also recorded significant falls in nitrogen dioxide, which is related to reduced car journeys and industrial activity. The gas is both a serious air pollutant and a powerful warming chemical.
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