ESA - Climate detectives

Investigation plan details

Team: Vianu Climate Detectives

Country: Romania  

Age: 14-15 years old   

14 members / 6 girls

Project title: Climate Changes Post COVID-19 Lockdown

Research question: Is the COVID-19 lockdown going to produce measurable changes regarding the quantity of precipitation, temperatures, vegetation, or even the existence of the “classical” four seasons?

Describe the local climate problem/issue you want to investigate.

Considering that 2020 was marked by the COVID-19 lockdown, our goal is to study how the amount of rainfall, temperatures and vegetation were affected. Therefore, we aim to measure the amount of carbon dioxide emissions during the lockdown and to compare the resulting data to the quantity of CO2 emitted in the previous years. By studying the comparison, we intend to establish a pattern indicating eventual climate changes such as extreme temperatures or quantity of precipitation. Moreover, based on this pattern, we wish to make predictions in connection to a comeback to the “classical” four seasons in Romania or rather an evolution to two seasons (evolution we clearly observed in our project last year-The regular four seasons, deforestation, and rainfalls by Vianu Climate Detectives).

What kind of Earth observation data will you use? Satellite images

Describe how you plan to investigate the climate problem and which data you plan to analyse. Also, describe how you plan to access/collect the data.

In order to achieve our goal, we are going to measure the quantity of carbon dioxide emissions from February to June 2020 (months during which the population had to go through a strict lockdown caused by the global pandemic). Also, we are going to compare this quantity to the CO2 emissions in the same time period of the previous five years. To obtain this data, we will be using Sentinel custom scripts that we are going to adapt ourselves to our needs in studying this climate issue. Additionally, we aim to examine satellite images of green areas as we believe the flora had a lot to benefit from the reduced CO2 emissions during lockdown. Then, we are going to plot this data into charts and diagrams so as to determine a relation between carbon dioxide emissions, rainfall, and temperatures, and study the modifications in the vegetation. Finally, we will compare the temperatures we analysed in the previous project to the temperatures predicted by the pattern we wish to observe and see if we can draw any conclusion referring to the number of existing seasons. In order to raise awareness about climate change, we will continue our initiative from last year and organize an online conference on Earth Day when we plan to present the results of our project up to that moment.

Feedback from the Expert

Expert: Magdalena Fitrzyk

“Hi my name is Magdalena and I am a remote sensing specialist. I am studying various phenomena related to land – vegetation, crops, forests but also urban landscapes all using Earth Observation Data.”

Local climate problem

“The main goal of this project is to study the amount of carbon dioxide during the pandemic of 2020 (from February to June) in order to see the effect of CO2 on the average air temperature which in turns has an impact on precipitation. This is very “hot” topic nowadays  and at the same time very important study, because its the first time in the modern world that in many locations in Europe/World we have seen a sudden drop in CO2 emission due to the lockdown. Comparing the situation pre covid and during the pandemic can give an overview on how carbon dioxide emissions influence our climate. Unfortunately initial studies led by scientists from ESA and NASA suggest that although COVID-19-related CO2 emission reductions are expected to slow the speed at which CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere, they will not reduce the overall atmospheric concentration of CO2.

However the project is interesting unfortunately it seems to me that this project is neither realistic nor feasible because currently we don’t have any satellite from the Sentinels family which can measure CO2.”

Investigation plan

“As said in the previous section there is no satellite from the Sentinels family which acquire data about the CO2. For the sake of this project students could study instead the air pollution for example No3 which could be obtained from the Sentinel 5p data. Students may also refer to the project by ESA NASA and JAXA. Additionally as they mentioned they could study the vegetation and this can be done with eoBrowser.”

General expert comment:

“I like this project because its a really hot topic nowadays both air pollution and COVID. I also like the approach of students –  they think that most of the interesting observations for the Earth are acquired by the Sentinels:) Yes we are very proud of Sentinels and their capabilities but unfortunately we are still missing observations of CO2. I still think students can be successful in the realisation of this project after a bit of additional research. Please keep on going like that, we need more smart and Earth sensible young people!”

ESA Education comment:

“This sounds like a very relevant and applicable topic! Some other tools that you can explore are the newly launched Climate from Space webapp by ESA’s climate office:

There is also a new online platform that has global coverage of the Sentinel 5-P NO2 ( Like Magdalena said, unfortunately, CO2 information is still missing, but making use of NO2, will still be useful measure of your investigation.

For more ESA resources regarding the effect of COVID-19 on overall air pollution, check out these articles:

Best of luck in your investigation!”