Satellite images show air pollution drops in India by 40 - 50% following lockdown






Lockdowns imposed to halt the spread of the coronavirus have been recently linked with cleaner air quality over Europe and China. New images, from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite, from the European Union Copernicus programme, now show some cities across India seeing levels drop by around 40–50% owing to its nationwide quarantine.

New satellite maps, produced using data from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite, show averaged nitrogen dioxide concentrations over India from 1 January to 24 March 2020 and 25 March (the first day of the lockdown) to 20 April 2020 – compared to the same time-frame as last year. The significant reduction in the concentrations can be seen over major cities across India. Mumbai and Delhi saw drops of around 40-50% compared to the same time last year.


Claus Zehner, ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-5P mission manager, says, “Thanks to the Tropomi instrument on the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite, we are able to observe such high reductions in concentrations in Europe, China, and now India because of the national quarantine measures put in place.

“What is interesting in these new maps are the high values of nitrogen dioxide concentrations over northeast India. Our analysis shows that these clusters are directly linked with the locations of the ongoing coal-based power plants. The largest power station in India, the Vindhyachal Super Thermal Power Station, shows a reduction of only around 15% compared to the same time last year.”

According to a recent report by Reuters, India’s electricity consumption fell by 9.2% in March 2020. Using data from the Power System Operation Corp Ltd (POSOCO), they found that consumers used 100.2 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) in March 2020, compared with 110.33 billion units from 2019.