Space photos reveal reduced pollution above Europe’s cities as coronavirus brings countries to a standstill

PROOF: Air pollution down on last year. CREDIT: ESA

DRASTIC but necessary measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 are having a positive impact on the environment, with pictures from space showing reduced air pollution over Europe.

The coronavirus has spread rapidly across the world – affecting 170 countries with more than 530,000 confirmed cases worldwide.

And with entire countries in lockdown, the volume of traffic on the roads has shrunk to a bare minimum, resulting in a noticable difference on polution levels.

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The European Space Agency (ESA) has published photographs taken by the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite, which recently mapped air pollution across Europe and China revealing a significant drop in nitrogen dioxide concentrations – coinciding with the strict quarantine measures.

Scientists from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) have been using the data to monitor both weather and pollution over Europe.

The images illustrate a decrease in nitrogen dioxide concentrations over major cities across Europe – specifically Madrid, Paris and Milan.

Comparisons are made of nitrogen dioxide concentrations from March 14 to 25, 2020, compared to the monthly average in 2019.

Henk Eskes, from KNMI, said these particular dates were chosen because “nitrogen dioxide concentrations vary from day to day due to changes in the weather,” and as such they were studied over a 10-day period.

He said this for “meteorological variability” to average out and allows researchers to see the impact of changes due to human activity.

The KNMI team, together with scientists worldwide, have begun working on a more detailed analysis using ground data, weather data to estimate the exact influence of the shutdown measures.


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