The European Space Agency (ESA) has recently created an online platform that lets the public track pollution levels around the world, especially in regards to the recent plunge from coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
The maps collect data from the ESA's Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite, whose sole purpose is to map nitrogen dioxide pollutants in the atmosphere and image them accurately at high resolutions.
Nitrogen dioxide is an emission caused by vehicle and power plant burning fossil fuels and adds to the accelerating change in Earth's climate. It also has health implications for those who breathe it in high concentrations, causing respiratory irritation and eventually asthma, coughing, wheezing, and general difficulty breathing.
The interactive map shows how the average level of nitrogen dioxide changes over a two-week period, accounting for weather and fluctuations.
The reductions during coronavirus lockdown were labelled "drastic".
But as the image below shows, the reductions were short-lived as China is back to contributing large levels of nitrogen dioxide.
Strong reductions were observed in Europe in March-April especially in Paris, Madrid, and Rome.
The below images compares the levels over Europe from March-April 2019 and at the same time in 2020.
Recent images taken by Copernicus Sentinel-5P have confirmed what we already feared, yet expected; the return of harmful nitrogen dioxide in the millions of tons.
Below is satellite data imagery over Europe during the quarantine
This is Europe today...
While levels are not as concentrated as other parts of the world, Europe returns to have a blanket of pollution above it as restrictions are lifted.
China's factories have begun working to fulfil the millions of online orders for cheap products and the returning levels of harmful pollutants reflect this.
Satellite data of pollutants over China with quarantine in place
China's nitrogen dioxide levels hit their lowest in decades and continue long past their festive season In January-February 2020.
China as quarantine is lifted...
China 2 months after...
The new data from Copernicus Sentinel-5P is a telling sign of the environmental impact of nitrogen dioxide.
The spread and concentrations of harmful nitrogen dioxide more than double on its way to returning to harmful levels experienced before COVID-19.
Comparing side by side China of today with quarantine, the difference is night and day.
Did we miss our window of greenlighting a green energy plan?
Are we dooming Earth with our pollution?
Let us know in comments and continue to support Aussie space.
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