Saturday, March 14, 2020

Air Pollution Plummets in Italy

Two weeks ago NASA showed how the huge reduction in air & road traffic and economic activity in China has also led to a huge drop in air pollution. Levels of NO2 plummeted in China after the introduction of coronavirus quarantines and the shut-down of factories. NASA visualized this drop with two side-by-side maps comparing NO2 over China during January and at the end of February. Airborne Nitrogen Dioxide Plummets Over China shows a huge drop in NO2 levels since the outbreak of Covid-19.

Since NASA released their visualization the number of Covid-19 cases in Italy has dramatically risen. In response the Italian government has initiated travel bans, quarantine zones, bans on public gatherings and suspended religious and cultural events. The result in Italy's northern industrial zone has been a similar drop in nitrogen dioxide that has been seen in China.

The European Space Agency has released an animated map which shows nitrogen dioxide emissions over Europe from Jan 1st to March 11th. ESA's Nitrogen dioxide emissions drop over Italy uses data from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite to show NO2 levels over Europe. Claus Zehner, ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-5P mission manager reports that, "the reduction in emissions that we can see, coincides with the lockdown in Italy causing less traffic and industrial activities."

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