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COVID-19: nitrogen dioxide over China

19 March 2020

Recent data have shown a decline of air pollution over northern Italy coinciding with its nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). This new map shows the variation of nitrogen dioxide emissions over China from December to March – thanks to the Tropomi instrument on board the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite. 

As news of the coronavirus broke out in the Hubei province, China, in late December 2019, stricter measures were put in place. As a result, by late January, factories were closed and streets were cleared as Chinese authorities had ceased daily activities to stop the spread of the illness.

This led to the dramatic reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions – those released by power plants, industrial facilities and vehicles – in all major Chinese cities between late-January and February. The drop in emissions also coincided with Lunar New Year celebrations, which usually sees a similar drop in emissions each year.

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