Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Earth Impacts of Covid-19

We all know the devastating impact that Covid-19 has been having on people's lives around the world. We are also profoundly aware of the economic impact that Covid-19 lock-downs are having on the global economy. Perhaps less understood is the impact that these lock-downs and this reduced economic activity is having on the Earth's environment.

Early on in the Covid-19 outbreak NASA revealed how air pollution in China and northern Italy had improved, most probably as a consequence of the shut-down of industry and the huge reduction in road traffic. Now NASA has teamed up with the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to document and visualize the other environmental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on planet Earth.

Water quality in the Venice Lagoon has improved during the Covid-19 outbreak

The Covid-19 Earth Observing Dashboard uses remote sensing data from ESA, JAXA and NASA to investigate and show how Covid-19 lock-downs have affected Earth’s air, land, and water. For example all three space agencies monitor water quality by measuring Chlorophyll-a (Chl) concentrations using satellite optical sensors. These sensors show that in many locations around the world water quality has improved during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Venice Lagoon in the North Adriatic is usually subject to heavy cruise ship activity. The water quality in the lagoon is also heavily effected by run-off from the Po River, which runs through many different industrialized areas. The decrease in maritime tourism in the lagoon and industrial activity along the Po River during the outbreak has seen unusually low levels of Chl concentration in the Venice Lagoon.

Air quality has improved in many areas of the United States

Air Quality has also improved in many locations around the world. The Covid-19 Earth Observing Dashboard shows that the Northeast United States has seen a 30% drop in NO2 levels compared to the average levels in the previous 5 years. Similar reductions have been seen in Europe, China and India during Covid-19 lock-downs.

You can use the Covid-19 Earth Observing Dashboard to explore the environmental impacts of Covid-19 lock-downs for yourself. The map allows you to search for examples geographically. You can also use the 'indicators' menu to search for examples by environmental, agricultural and economic impacts.

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