Europe's air quality improves amid coronavirus lockdown
Emergency coronavirus mitigation measures have led to improved air quality in Europe. The European Space Agency (ESA) reports that the concentration of nitrogen dioxide has dropped over European capitals and industrial zones. The substance is produced, for example, by cars, factories, or power plants.
Satellite images from the Copernicus program, which monitors the environment, show a decrease in nitrogen dioxide concentration over Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, and in the north of Italy.
Experts surveyed the state of air over Europe between 14 and 25 March, then compared the resulting data with the monthly average in 2019.
“The concentration of nitrogen dioxide varies daily depending on the weather. Therefore, we cannot rely solely on data for a single day,” explains Henk Eskes of the Dutch meteorological office KNMI. “By combining data over time – in this case, ten days – the variability of meteorological phenomena averages, and we can see the impact of a change in human activity,” Eskes adds.
Copernicus also monitors air status in other countries such as Britain and the Netherlands. In these Western European countries, however, data collection is complicated by the variability of the weather.
ESA has previously reported measurements over Italy, according to which the country’s nitrogen dioxide concentration decreased by 10 percent per week from mid-February to mid-March.