ASSESSMENT OF SENTINEL-5P PERFORMANCE FOR GROUND-LEVEL AIR QUALITY MONITORING: PREPARATORY EXPERIMENTS OVER THE COVID-19 LOCKDOWN PERIOD
Keywords: Air Quality, Sentinel-5P, Earth Observations, Air Pollution Patterns, Nitrogen Dioxide
Abstract. Scientific evidence has demonstrated that deterioration of ambient air quality has increased the number of deaths worldwide by appointing air pollution among the most pressing sustainability concerns. In this context, the continuous monitoring of air quality and the modelling of complex air pollution patterns is critical to protect population and ecosystems health. Availability of air quality observations has terrifically improved in the last decades allowing – nowadays – for extensive spatial and temporal resolved analysis at both global and local scale. Satellite remote sensing is mostly accountable for this data availability and is promising to foster air quality monitoring in support of traditional ground sensors measurements. In view of the above, this study compares observations from the Sentinel-5P mission of the European Copernicus Programme (the most recent Earth Observation platform providing open measurements of atmospheric constituents) with traditional ground measurements to investigate their space and time correlations across the Lombardy region (Northern Italy). The correlation analysis focused on nitrogen dioxide. The use of data collected during the COVID-19 pandemic allowed for a parallel exploration of the lockdown effects on nitrogen dioxide emissions. Results show a marked decrease in nitrogen dioxide concentrations during the lockdown and an overall strong positive correlation between satellite and ground sensors observations. These experiments are preparatory for future activities that will focus on the development of satellite-based air quality local prediction models, aiming at improving the granularity of the ground-based information available for air quality monitoring and exposure modelling.