Measures against COVID-19 significantly improve air quality

23/03/2020

The following maps show the current particulate matter concentrations over Europe and Germany.

Map of the EU Air Quality Index with measurement data of the current situation in Europe Copyright: Gunnar Ketzler Figure 1: EU Air Quality Index of 22.03.2020

Only rarely has air quality been as good over large areas of Europe as it is now. The EU Air Quality Index is very favourable, particularly in those countries where significant changes in everyday life (traffic, production, etc.) are currently taking effect to protect against infection (Fig. 1).

Map of the current particulate matter concentration in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine Copyright: Gunnar Ketzler Figure 2: Particulate matter concentrations in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine on 23.03.2020

This is also noticeable in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine: the particulate matter concentrations are extremely low, mostly below 5 g/m air. Only at individual measuring sites the values are slightly higher. The data from the PMLAB project, in which the Geographical Institute is involved, show the current situation (Fig. 2).

Visualization of HYSPLIT data for air mass transport on 23.3.2020 Copyright: Gunnar Ketzler Figure 3: Visualization of HYSPLIT data for air mass transport on 23.03.2020

Presently, easterly winds predominate, leading continental air masses to Central Europe, as shown by the visualization of HYSPLIT data for different air layers (Fig. 3). These are normally preloaded by natural dust; further particulate matter originates from domestic and industrial sources in Eastern Europe and from German sources (traffic, etc.). Up to 100 g/m are possible under similar weather conditions.