6 May 2020
adapted from the story by NOAA Communications
The coronavirus pandemic response has reduced pollution from a large number of sources across many geographic regions. NOAA has launched a wide-ranging research effort to investigate the impact of reduced vehicle traffic, air travel, shipping, manufacturing and other activities on Earth's atmosphere and oceans.
NOAA scientists are using the most advanced atmosphere-ocean models to look for changes in atmospheric composition, weather, climate, and precipitation over weeks to months. This research will provide important evaluations to improve weather forecasting and climate projections going forward.
"This unique view into the relative stillness we find ourselves in is only possible because of the existing baseline knowledge that NOAA has built over decades of monitoring, modeling and research," said Craig McLean, assistant NOAA administrator for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. "This research is providing new insight into the drivers of change for our oceans, atmosphere, air quality, and weather. Our past work has prepared us to investigate these unprecedented times."
NOAA scientists are investigating the impact of decreased pollution in specific areas over the short term, and will analyze samples collected from its global sampling network of contract airplanes, towers and ground sites at its laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. In the oceans, NOAA scientists will be assessing impacts of reduced underwater noise levels on marine life.
Some of the new research efforts:
NOAA is coordinating with the broader environmental science community on this work, including partners in the interagency and academic communities. Observations and findings generated by this research effort will be archived by NOAA's National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI) for use by other researchers.
All research activity will be conducted under Department of Commerce and Centers for Disease Control guidance which put the health and safety of scientists, employees and contractors foremost, while continuing to meet NOAA's essential mission needs.