Tracking air quality trends and vehicle traffic dynamics at urban scale using satellite and ground data before and after the COVID-19 outbreak.

Publication date: Jul 14, 2023

The implications of the COVID-19 outbreak are subjected to an increasing number of studies. So far, air quality trends related to the lockdown due to the pandemic have been analysed in large cities or entire regions. In this work, the region studied is the metropolitan area of Cagliari, which is the main city on the island of Sardinia (Italy) and can be representative of a coastal city that includes industrial settlements. The purpose of the study is to evaluate the effect of restrictions related to the COVID-19 outbreak on air quality levels and the traffic dynamics in this type of urban area. Nitrogen Dioxide (NO₂) levels before, during and after COVID-19 lockdown have been investigated using data acquired from the Sentinel-5P/TROPOMI satellite combined with on-site measurements. Both TROPOMI detected and ground-based data have revealed higher levels of NO₂ before and after the lockdown, compared to those during the period of COVID-related restrictions, in particular in the urban area of Cagliari. On the other hand, NO registered in the oil refinery area did not show significant differences associated with lockdown. The correlation of TROPOMI NO₂ tropospheric column with ground data (surface NO) on a monthly mean basis showed different values based on the background and the highest Pearson’s coefficient was of about 0. 78 near to the city centre, where traffic can be considered a significant source of emission. In addition, a comparison of the air pollution level with the dynamics of vehicle traffic was investigated. The study highlighted a remarkable correlation between the reduction of the number of vehicles and the corresponding tropospheric NO₂ values that decreased on a weekly mean basis.

Concepts Keywords
Italy Atmospheric pollution
Oil Nitrogen dioxide (NO₂)
Pandemic Pandemic
Traffic Sentinel-5P
Weekly Transportation


Type Source Name
drug DRUGBANK Medical air
disease IDO quality
disease MESH COVID-19
disease IDO site
disease VO monthly

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