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Coronavirus: Nitrogen dioxide emissions drop over Italy seen from satellite

on 25 March 2020

New data from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite reveal the decline of air pollution, specifically nitrogen dioxide concentrations, over Italy. This reduction is particularly visible in northern Italy which coincides with its nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The animation shows the fluctuation of nitrogen dioxide concentrations across Europe from 1 January 2020 until 11 March 2020. These data are thanks to the Tropomi instrument on board the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite which maps a multitude of air pollutants around the globe.

Claus Zehner, ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-5P mission manager, comments, “The decline in nitrogen dioxide concentrations over the Po Valley in northern Italy is particularly evident.

“Although there could be slight variations in the data due to cloud cover and changing weather, we are very confident that the reduction in concentrations that we can see, coincides with the lockdown in Italy causing less traffic and industrial activities.”

Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, says, “Copernicus Sentinel-5P Tropomi is the most accurate instrument today that measures air pollution from space. These measurements, globally available thanks to the free and open data policy, provide crucial information for citizens and decision makers."

Given the growing importance and need for the continuous monitoring of air quality, the upcoming Copernicus Sentinel-4 and Sentinel-5 missions, as part of the EU’s Copernicus programme, will monitor key air quality trace gases and aerosols. These missions will provide information on air quality, stratospheric ozone and solar radiation, as well as climate monitoring.

You can find out more details at this link.

Image credit: contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2020), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO