The Effect of COVID-19 on Europe Can Be Seen from Space

The Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite has revealed a sharp decline in air pollution over Italy as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads

As Italy undergoes its nationwide lockdown, the heavens have begun to part over its urban centers. Northern Italy has had one of the worst outbreaks of the coronavirus so far, resulting in the observation of drastically lower levels of air pollution over Europe. Every cloud has an er... silver lining?

The European Space Agency's Copernicus Sentinel-5P, one of the world's most accurate tools for recording air pollution, recorded a time-lapse animation showing a significant reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions between January 1st and March 11th. The scientists running the mission are confident that the reduction in emissions seen in the data coincides with the country's lockdown. Basically, we're seeing the effect of less traffic and less industrial activity.

Similar reductions have also been seen in China this year as a result of the pandemic. The gases present in these emissions including nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, aerosols, ozone, formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide, methane, and aerosols have serious consequences on the health of our bodies, the environment, and the global climate.

While in no way mitigating the serious impact COVID-19 is having on the global community right now, technology like this helps us understand and visualize the impact that industrialized society has on the environment, regardless of the circumstances. Perhaps once this is all over, we can all take a step back and look up.

Read more on European Space Agency.