COVID-19 aerosol lidar NRT campaign

Date: 12.05.2020

The EARLINET/ACTRIS intensive campaign is organized as part of the ACTRIS initiative for studying the changes in the atmosphere during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The scope of the campaign is twofold: 

a) to monitor the atmosphere’s structure during the lockdown and early relaxation period in Europe;   

b) to identify possible changes due to decreased emissions, by comparison to the aerosol climatology in Europe. 

During the entire month of May, aerosol lidars will measure at least two-times per day, and data will be processed by the Single Calculus Chain in a centralized hub. In order to test the NRT capabilities, data will be available in max. 12h after the end of each measurement. More than 20 EARLINET/ACTRIS lidar stations are participating to this experiment, out of which 7 are automatic, continuous operating systems. The analysis of this preliminary data will be reported weekly to ACTRIS, Copernicus, the European Space Agency and EUMETSAT, but also to relevant stakeholders at national level.

This campaign is also a good opportunity for testing and optimizing the workflows between the future ACTRIS Aerosol Remote Sensing NFs, the ACTRIS Topical Centre for Aerosol Remote Sensing (CARS) and the Aerosol Remote Sensing Unit at the ACTRIS Data Centre (ARES).

Go to the weekly reports here

Check the daily quicklooks at:

Lidar stations providing measurements of the aerosol profiles daily: a) in yellow, stations measuring 2 times per day; b) in red, stations providing continuous measurements

ACTRIS activities connected to the COVID-19 and lockdown in Europe

Date: 03.04.2020

ACTRIS measurements up and running during the lockdown situation.

Survey among ACTRIS National Facilities revealed that most of the ACTRIS observational and exploratory platforms are operational. Within the context of the current COVID-19 outbreak, ACTRIS is continuing to provide access to data on air quality and atmospheric composition. This is of particular interest and importance as it provides us with unique information measured from the ground of the European air quality and atmospheric composition during the lockdown. ACTRIS complements, in a fundamental way, satellite observation and modelling analysis. The near-real time data are available through the ACTRIS Data Centre (

Short distance transmission of SARS-CoV-2 via airborne particles.

Newspapers and social media are flooded with facts and news connected to SARS-CoV-2 outbreak and its consequences on our society.

Today’s headline on several national and global media and websites (e.g. Repubblica, BBC) recommended the use of masks as studies indicate that particles can carry the virus1. The short distance ( < 8m) transmission of SARS-CoV-2 via airborne particles is also being investigated e.g. by the Finnish researchers from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Aalto University, University of Helsinki and the Finnish Meteorological Institute as well by researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They are studying how pathogens, such as corona virus, can be transported by the very small particles that are emitted from the respiratory tract when coughing, sneezing or simply talking2,3.

Estimates of the effects of lockdown on air quality is complex and in progress, and the meteorological conditions are crucial

In addition to the transmission potential of SARS-CoV-2 on short distances, a lot of attention has also been given to the large scale environmental changes resulting from lockdowns spreading across Europe, for example, from a reduction in seismic noise4 to atmospheric composition changes as reported from ESA and Copernicus satellite observations5 and CAMS modelling analysis6. However, long-term and quality assured data need to be applied in the evaluation of the correlation results as meteorological condition can obstruct such the analysis7.

The COVID-19 crisis is demanding urgent responses from the scientific community. Given the inherent complexity of the atmospheric processes, ACTRIS will inform regularly always considering the necessity to provide expertise based on sound scientific understanding.












ACTRIS-IT is closely monitoring air composition during COVID-19 lockdown.

Date: 30.03.2020

ACTRIS-Italy is collecting parallel measurements of atmospheric composition at different altitudes and urbanization contexts in Northern Italy.

According to first analyses, surface concentration of NO2 have decreased in north Italy of about 10% per week during the last four or five weeks4,5. The concentrations of another major air pollutant, the particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), have declined too but with large day-to-day variations: after two weeks of lockdown and large reductions in traffic activity in north Italy, PM10 levels above the threshold of 50 mg m-3 are still recorded in several cities of the Po Valley.

The main facility operative within ACTRIS in Northern Italy is “Monte Cimone – Po Valley observatory” (CMN-PV). It is a distributed infrastructure including the GAW and ICOS stations of Monte Cimone ( in the northern Apennines, and the two stations of San Pietro Capofiume and Bologna in the south sector of the Po Valley. It is a unique observatory for providing parallel measurements of atmospheric composition at different altitudes and urbanization contexts in the same geographical area. Preliminary measurements at Monte Cimone (2165 m a. s. l.) show reduced submicron aerosol concentrations compared to 2019 (Fig. 1). If confirmed, a negative anomaly with respect to the climatology will proof that the abatement of anthropogenic emissions caused by the lockdown are affecting the composition of the background atmosphere in this region of the world.

Fig. 1. Monthly mean concentrations of accumulation-mode aerosol at Monte Cimone in 2019 and early 2020 (update March 20th).

At the low altitude sites of the observatory (Bologna and San Pietro Capofume), advanced aerosol measurements are set up during intensive observation periods. Currently, a state-of-the-art high-resolution aerosol time-of-flight mass spectrometer (HR-ToF-AMS) is being operated in Bologna (Fig. 2). The instrument provides real-time submicron aerosol chemical composition measurements providing unparalleled detail on the time-resolved PM source contributions including traffic, residential combustion and secondary formation. First observations during the lockdown show that the concentrations of several particulate anthropogenic pollutants – like ammonium nitrate – are still very dynamic in the Po Valley, with a large variability induced by meteorological factors. Accounting for such effects provides baseline knowledge for quantifying the impact of emission changes on PM concentration levels. Probing the complexity of the meteorological and chemical processes linking emissions to concentrations is one of the targets of ACTRIS.

Fig. 2 Time series of the non-refractory chemical components of sub-micrometer aerosol measured by the HR-ToF-AMS in Bologna (preliminary data for the third week of March 2020). “Org”: organic matter; “NO3”: nitrate; “SO4”: sulfate; “NH4”: ammonium; “Chl”: chloride.

International scientific networks and collaborations are of great importance for the empowerment of regional monitoring networks for priority scientific objectives. Further advanced aerosol observations, including multichannel aerosol size and mobility distributions measurements, are being set up in collaboration with the University of Modena, Helsinki and of Eastern Finland. 

The established scientific collaborations between CNR and other partners with the EU institutions responsible for satellite Earth observations (EUMETSAT, ASI) will enable to benchmark remote-sensed air quality parameters with the advanced in situ ground measurements carried out by ACTRIS for a more quantitative assessment of the impact of emissions on concentrations and exposure.

In these extraordinary times, scientific research must take a pro-active role to achieve quantitative information on the human impact on the environment, as such information will be key for governance in the upcoming years.

Source: An ACTRIS-Italy contribution to atmospheric monitoring during the COVID-19 lockdown



ACTRIS response to air quality observation at the time of SARS-CoV-2.

Date: 24.03.2020, Last update: 27.03.2020


Air quality has changed across Europe, and in particularly in Northern Italy, in conjunction with the lockdown implemented in many countries to fight against the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2.

Data from Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite1 and from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) reanalysis2 have revealed that nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions drastically diminished in the Po Valley as the lockdown halts most of the traffic and industrial activities. Additionally, reductions in particulate matter (PM10) concentrations and low variability have been observed in different regions of Europe.


ACTRIS supports rapid, high-quality data to observe atmospheric composition changes during global health crises.

Researches are interested in obtaining accurate and highly reliable data on air quality which can help understanding, for example,  if and how aerosol can be linked with the transport of SARS-CoV-2, changes in upper air meteorological data and in cirrus clouds near the top of the troposphere due to the reduction of air traffic.

ACTRIS is currently gathering atmospheric composition measurements from ACTRIS platforms across different areas in Europe which will directly impact the reliability of air quality studies by providing crucial information on aerosol and trace gases variables during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemics.

The Italian component of the distributed research infrastructure ACTRIS (ACTRIS-IT) is based on a number of different facilities distributed throughout the national territory including observational sites with multiparameter instrumentation, laboratories and experimental simulation chambers. ACTRIS-IT is collecting parallel measurements of atmospheric composition at different altitudes and urbanization contexts in the Po Valley. You can read more about the ACTRIS-Italy contribution to atmospheric monitoring during the COVID-19 lockdown by clicking here3.

ACTRIS will also prepare specific, user-friendly data sets of the atmospheric observations for various user groups when the lockdown situation is over for further detailed studies and analyse the environmental and societal impacts of the COVID-19 and the closing down of several sectors of society (e.g. transport, industry, services).


ACTRIS actively engages with the wider community of Research Infrastructures in Europe to support joint activities for SARS-CoV-2 research.

ACTRIS is collaborating with the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) and the Association of European-Level Research Infrastructures Facilities (ERF-AISBL)4 to create dedicated spaces favoring the uptake of services offered by RIs in support of scientists conducting research related to SARS-CoV-2.


1Copernicus Sentinel5P:

2Copernicus CAMS:

3ACTRIS-ITALY contribution:




ACTRIS-D selected for the National Roadmap of Research Infrastructures

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research selected ACTRIS-D, the German Consortium of ACTRIS, for the National Roadmap. With this achievement, ACTRIS-D is recognized as a fundamental and edge-cutting research infrastructure providing outstanding research climate and atmosphere.

This is great achievement for the ACTRIS-D consortium and fundamental for the implementation of ACTRIS at European level. Congratulation ACTRIS-D!

Find the press release (in German) here.

For more information, please contact: Dr. Ulla Wandinger (

The Wolkenlabor in Leipzing is part of ACTRIS and EUROCHAMP-2020. Photo credits: Tilo Arnhold, TROPOS

ACTRIS Implementation Project (IMP) got funding!

On Friday August the 23rd 2019 the European Commission released the evaluations and funding decisions of the applications to the INFRADEV-3 call. ACTRIS IMP was among the project that were funded.

ACTRIS IMP project has now reached the stage of Grant Agreement preparation. The total funding is 5M€ for the period 2020-2023 and funds will be granted to ACTRIS IMP for the next four years.

ACTRIS is developing towards becoming an ERIC

ACTRIS is developing towards becoming a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC).

On 23rd of January 2019, the Interim ACTRIS Council (IAC) has mandated Finland to submit ACTRIS ERIC Step 1 documents to the European Commission.

ACTRIS ERIC provides the governance of ACTRIS. ACTRIS ERIC establishes and operates the research infrastructure and coordinates the strategic and financial development and eventual long-term operation of ACTRIS.

ACTRIS is an European Research Infrastructure for short-lived atmospheric constituents increasing the excellence in Earth system observation and research and providing information and knowledge for developing sustainable solutions to societal needs.


ACTRIS ERIC statutory seat will be hosted by Finland and the ACTRIS Head Office operated by Finland and Italy. 

For more information contact ACTRIS Office.

Finland to host ACTRIS ERIC Statutory seat

On 8th of June 2018, the Interim ACTRIS Council (IAC) approved the Finnish offer to host ACTRIS ERIC (European Research Infrastructure Consortium). Finland expressed its willingness to host the statutory seat for ACTRIS ERIC in 2015 in the proposal to ESFRI 2016 Roadmap. In May 2018 the Finnish Committee confirmed the commitment and the readiness to lead and coordinate the ACTRIS ERIC application process.

ACTRIS will be coordinated by the legal entity ACTRIS ERIC. The task of ACTRIS ERIC is to establish and operate a distributed research infrastructure, which shares high-quality datasets and provides services tailored for scientific and public usage in the area of atmospheric sciences. ACTRIS ERIC provides the governance of ACTRIS, and coordinates the strategic development in order to secure the long-term operation of ACTRIS.

The preparations for ACTRIS as a research infrastructure started back in 2014 and currently there are 18 European countries involved at ministry level. ACTRIS plans to be fully operational by 2025 and will offer its services for at least 20 years.

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