Satellite images show decline in pollution over Italy during quarantine

16 Mar 2020 | by Danielle Hastings

Satellite images from the European Space Agency taken before and after Italy's Covid-19 quarantine measures show a drastic decrease in air pollution over the country, as residents have been forced to stay indoors to self-isolate.

Satellite images show decline in pollution over Italy during quarantine

The animated imagery, which is based on data from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite, shows the decline in air pollution over Italy between 1 January and 11 March 2020, specifically nitrogen dioxide emissions.

In a press release, the European Space Agency (ESA) noted how the reduction was particularly visible in northern Italy, which 'coincides with its nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus'.

"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," said Copernicus Sentinel-5P mission manager Claus Zehner.

Josef Aschbacher, ESA's Director of Earth Observation Programmes, added: "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."

Like many countries, Italy is currently on lockdown amid the spread of coronavirus.