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 measurements collected from its global sampling network of contract airplanes, towers and ground sites at laboratories in Boulder, Colorado and College Park, Maryland. In the oceans, NOAA scientists will be assessing impacts of reduced underwater noise levels on marine life.