Satellite images from the European Space Agency taken before and after Italy's Covid-19 quarantine measures show a drastic decrease in air pollution over the country, as residents have been forced to stay indoors to self-isolate.
The animated imagery, which is based on data from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite, shows the decline in air pollution over Italy between 1 January and 11 March 2020, specifically nitrogen dioxide emissions.
In a press release, the European Space Agency (ESA) noted how the reduction was particularly visible in northern Italy, which 'coincides with its nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus'.
Copernicus Sentinel-5P mission manager Claus Zehner said: "The decline in nitrogen dioxide emissions over the Po Valley in northern Italy is particularly evident. Although there could be slight variations in the data due to cloud cover and changing weather, we are very confident that the reduction in emissions that we can see coincides with the lockdown in Italy, causing less traffic and industrial activities."
Josef Aschbacher, ESA's Director of Earth Observation Programmes, added: "Copernicus Sentinel-5P Tropomi is the most accurate instrument today that measures air pollution from space.
"These measurements, globally available thanks to the free and open data policy, provide crucial information for citizens and decision makers."
Like many countries, Italy is currently on lockdown amid the spread of coronavirus.
It became the second worst-affected country in the world after China, where the virus broke out, with the Italian death toll currently sitting at 1,441 - making up nearly a quarter of the global number: 5,833.
The country also has 21,157 confirmed cases.
The World Health Organisation has said that Europe is now the 'epicentre' of the pandemic, with Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu saying in a press conference: "More than 132,000 cases of Covid-19 have now been reported to the WHO from 123 countries and territories; 5,000 people have lost their lives - a tragic milestone.
"Europe has now become the epicentre of the pandemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China. More cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic."
He continued: "Our message to countries continues to be: you must take a comprehensive approach.
"Any country that looks at the experience of other countries with large epidemics and thinks 'that won't happen to us' is making a deadly mistake. It can happen to anyone."Featured Image Credit: European Space Agency