People are terrified by the fast-spreading virus that has shocked the world and caused the deaths of thousands of people worldwide. The number of infected people is constantly on the rise, and this boosts the need for quarantine.
It is far from easy to remain positive when the future looks grim. Yet, scientists have finally shared positive news- even though it is not what we are praying for the most right now.
The European Space Agency (ESA), a spacecraft that tracks air pollution in the atmosphere, as well as some independent researchers, revealed that the levels of nitrogen dioxide emissions have drastically reduced over Italy after the lockdown due to the spread of COVID-19.
Italy has seen the greatest number of confirmed cases of the virus of any country except China, and it was particularly prevalent in northern Italy. In an attempt to contain COVID-19, the Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte ordered northern Italy into lockdown on March 8.
This decision affected over 16 million people, restricted travel from, to or within the affected areas, and put a ban on cultural events. Since then, as the situation aggravated, the measures were extended to all parts of Italy.
The Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite spotted decreased NO2 emissions, that means that air pollution is reduced, with the greatest change observed in the northern part of the country.
Claus Zehner, ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-5P mission manager, stated:
“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.”
Scientists and researchers claim that NO2 levels are significantly lower above Italy
Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes explained:
“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.”
The graphs reveal lower NO2 pollution starting from the 14th of February
Less NO2 traces on the 24th of February
Santiago Gassó, a research associate at NASA, agreed that “ there is a clear decrease of NO2 levels (a pollution marker) in northern Italy according to the satellite sensor’.
He went on to explain that while fluctuating NO2 emissions are completely normal if we consider the fact that various factors can affect them, and the observed change is significant.
NO2 traces were dramatically lower in March
The map shows NO2 pollution levels on the 8th of February, Saturday
Pollution levels on Saturday, March 7
Data presented by the European Space Agency (ESA) reveals the same
Watch the time-lapse from ESA in the video below
Many Italians claim that the change in the environment is evident
Reduced traffic has made the canals in Venice crystal clear