A BAN on non-essential travel has led to a drastic drop in pollution across Spain.

The European Space Agency (ESA) published images on Friday, March 27, proving that the lock-down is having an effect on the atmosphere, as much as it is our lifestyle.

Satellite images from 800km above Earth compare the concentration of nitrogen dioxide over Spain in March of this year, and March 2019.

Spain 2019
MARCH 2019: High pollution above Spain’s major cities

Spectacular drops in pollution were especially noted in the larger cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and Valencia.

Similar drops can also be seen in the skies above Paris, Milan and Rome.

Claus Zehner, Head of the ESA’s Sentinel 5 mission, admits, “We have never seen anything like this in Europe before.”

“The only thing comparable was the drastic reduction we saw in Beijing during the 2008 Olympics, when the authorities closed the city to traffic and shut down the coal-fired power plants,” he continued.

Spain 2020
MARCH 2020: Lock-down takes affect on pollution levels

Zehner’s team is analysing the images further to assess the positive environmental impact, but initial estimations suggest a reduction of up to 40% in polluting gases.

Concentrations of nitrogen dioxide come from excessive burning of fossil fuels, their use in transportation, industry, and heating. 

It increases the likelihood of breathing problems among the vulnerable/

Additionally, it also adds to the Tropospheric ozone, a greenhouse gas that increases global warming.

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