As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread around the globe, more and more regulations surrounding work and travel have been put in place to reduce the risk of transmission.
As satellites orbiting Earth have observed, this has resulted in lowered air pollution over Italy and lowered nitrogen-dioxide emissions over China. When the coronavirus first appeared, in December 2019 in the Hubei Province in China, factories closed and people quarantined. As the outbreak grew in Italy, the same measures were taken.
TROPOMI, the Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument onboard the Copernicus satellite — created with the assistance of the European Space Agency, — has been observing these atmospheric changes from space.
The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) has been, with this instrument, identifying a significant drop in fine particulate matter (a major air pollutant). With both satellite observations and computer models of the atmosphere, researchers have found a 20%-30% decrease in surface particulate matter over huge swaths of China.
The Copernicus satellites offer a unique vantage point to monitor the health of our planet. Sentinel-5P (Precursor) is one of seven Copernicus satellites in orbit today. It currently provides the most accurate measurements of nitrogen dioxide and other trace gases from space.
Images 1-3: Nitrogen dioxide emissions over China (January – 1, February – 2, March – 3). Source: www.esa.int/Applications/Observing_the_Earth/Copernicus/Sentinel-5P/COVID-19_nitrogen_dioxide_over_China
Images 4-6: Nitrogen dioxide emissions over Italy (January – 4, February – 5, March – 6). Source: www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Videos/2020/03/Coronavirus_nitrogen_dioxide_emissions_drop_over_Italy