Copernicus provides vital information about climate and atmosphere to advance COVID-19 research

May 20, 2020

Amid the on-going COVID-19 crisis, there is widespread interest in up-to-date information about the climate and atmosphere. The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service and the Copernicus Climate Change Service are two of the six thematic information services of Copernicus - the EU’s programme providing information services based on satellite Earth Observation (EO) and in situ (non-space) data, which is coordinated and managed by the European Commission. The two services, which are implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) on behalf of the European Commission, are helping researchers, policy-makers and citizens alike with quality-assured data and tools. As is described below, the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service is providing updated European air quality information on a daily and weekly basis, in support of the COVID-19 crisis, while the Copernicus Climate Change Service has developed an application that allows health authorities and epidemiology centres to explore whether temperature and humidity affect the spread of the coronavirus.

 

The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) already monitors atmospheric conditions around the world on a daily basis, and now operates a dedicated micro-site (see web-link below) that provides updated European air quality information on a daily and weekly basis, in support of the COVID-19 crisis. This site includes maps, time-series and animations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particulate matter (PM10) for 50 major European cities. Based on satellites, ground observations and state-of-the-art numerical models, CAMS’ monitoring of the atmosphere makes it possible to see what the current levels of air pollution across Europe are, including the effects of lockdown measures against COVID-19 on air quality. This is quite complex, as continual changes in the weather and types of emissions can cause large variations in the surface concentrations of pollutants. Nevertheless, CAMS has already detected a reduction of NO2 levels over Northern Italy since the lockdown. Furthermore, CAMS is looking into other effects that air pollution might have on COVID-19. Although there is no evidence yet that air pollution is playing a role in spreading the new coronavirus, CAMS is working together with medical research teams to look into this. However, air pollution does affect cardio-pulmonary health and immune response, which may aggravate COVID-19 symptoms in, for instance, allergy sufferers or residents of big cities where the air quality is poor.

 

The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) has worked with environmental software experts (B-Open) to develop an application that allows health authorities and epidemiology centres to explore whether temperature and humidity affect the spread of the coronavirus. This application is freely accessible from the C3S Climate Data Store (CDS, see third web-link below). C3S provides information on past, present and future climate variables, such as temperature, humidity, and ultraviolet radiation at ground level. Researchers can use the application to map this data against the locations of COVID-19 deaths for January, February and March 2020 provided by Johns Hopkins University. The application also shows how temperature and humidity around the world are likely to change over the next months. If a solid relation between virus spread and weather should be confirmed, then having information about the expected climate conditions for the coming month would help inform the governments about the most suitable interventions.

 

This news item is based on a report on the web-site of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) on 1 April 2020 (see web-link below).

 

Niall McCormick

European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC)

 

More information:

https://climate.copernicus.eu/copernicus-provides-vital-information-advance-covid-19-research

https://atmosphere.copernicus.eu/european-air-quality-information-support-covid-19-crisis

https://cds.climate.copernicus.eu/apps/c3s/app-c3s-monthly-climate-covid-19-explorer

CAPTION FOR FIGURE: [ Screenshot of a new Copernicus Climate Change Service application, showing COVID-19 mortalities mapped against temperature. © Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S); ECMWF. ]


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