Nature | Science

Satellite Images Reveal A Drastic Drop In Pollution Due To The Coronavirus Quarantine

The coronavirus outbreak has put the entire world on hold. Every school, facility and institution is shut down. Students stay at home. Everyone is forced to stay home. COVID-19 has killed over 26,000 people. Over 500,000 live with the virus, hoping to wake up again tomorrow.

But, there’s one small ray of home. It restores our faith. The situation is far from good, and everyone panics. However, scientists have some great news for everybody.

The European Space Agency (ESA) tracks air pollution in the atmosphere. A group of independent researchers do the same. Their results have shown that the level of nitrogen dioxide emissions in the atmosphere above Italy is a lot lower. The entire country is under lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Italy has the second highest number of people infected with COVID-19. China is “on the top.” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte forced northern Italy into lockdown on March 18. He had to do something to prevent the spread of the virus in that part of the country.

Over 16 million Italians are forced to stay home. Traveling to and in this area has been reduced to minimum. Mass gatherings are cancelled.

Copernicus Sentinel-5P showed some great results. The level of NO2 emissions is low. The air pollution has been reduced. Northern Italy isn’t as polluted as it used to be.

Claus Zehner, ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-5P mission manager, discussed the topic.

“The decline in nitrogen dioxide emissions 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 emissions that we can see, coincides with the lockdown in Italy causing less traffic and industrial activities.”

According to scientists and researchers, NO2 levels have seen drastical drop in the sky above Italy.

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

The graphs show low NO2 levels starting from the 14th of February

Lower NO2 traces on the 24th of February

“There is a clear decrease of NO2 levels (a pollution marker) in northern Italy according to the satellite sensor,” Santiago Gassó, a research associate at NASA, explained.

NO2 traces saw drastic drop in March

NO2 pollution levels on the 8th of February, Saturday

Pollution levels on Saturday, March 7

The European Space Agency (ESA) confirms this information

ESA has the perfect time-lapse video

Italians noticed the change

Water in Venice is clear!