Investigating Nitrogen Dioxide

Nitrogen Dioxide levels over China in 2004

Image courtesy NASA

Students will investigate Nitrogen Dioxide levels in the atmosphere during a one year time span.
Grade Level: K – 2
Estimated Time for Completing Activity: One 30-minute class period.
Learning Outcomes:
  • Students will observe Monthly Tropospheric Total Column NO2 data from 2007
  • Students will evaluate changes in the tropospheric NO2 levels during 2007
  • Students will draw conclusions about what factors around the world effect NO2 levels (season, population, industry, etc)
  • Students will infer specific causes for changes in NO2 level
  • Students will manipulate data sets from MyNASAData website
  • Knowledge of longitude and latitude
  • Knowledge of basic directional words
  • Knowledge of continent names and basic location
Lesson Links:

Humans can have a huge impact on air quality. Nitrogen Dioxide is created and emitted into the atmosphere by products such as: automobiles, outdated gas stoves and heaters, fires, and tobacco smoke. These are not the only sources, but are major contributors.

Carbon Monoxide is a harmful gas with reddish-brown color and sharp odor. It is harmful if inhaled because it irritates eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. High exposure may cause chronic bronchitis or asthma and increased risk of respiratory infection.


1. To gain Access the Live Access Server (Advanced Edition) click on the link found in the lesson links section above.
2. If you are not automatically prompted with parameter choices click on, Atmosphere, Air Quality, and then select select Monthly Tropospheric Total Column NO2 (OMI)
3. Above the Navigation map to the left of the screen, click on the double downward arrows and select a region of interest.
4. Change the date range to Jan 2008.
5. Be sure to click on the radio button next to ‘Update Plot’ to see your changes made.
6. Click the button from the top menu that says ‘Compare’ and a window will appear with 4 possible maps.
7. You will now be able to view January, April, July, and October on separate maps.
8. Keep the first map with the date of 2008 Jan.
9. Click on the date change menus beneath each following map and choose the next month from the menu. Keep the year 2008 the same for all 4 maps.
10. You should now have 4 maps within 2008 from different months.
11. Respond to the prompts under the Questions section.


1. Determine the regions with highest NO2 values for each month.

2. Determine the regions with lowest NO2 values for each month.

3. Determine the regions with consistent NO2 values throughout the year.


1. Brainstorm ideas about why certain areas may have higher NO2 concentration than others.
2. What areas have the biggest change in concentration? What might cause the sudden change?

Lesson plan contributed by Becky Schnekser, MY NASA DATA Team

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