NOAA scientists are exploring the impact on the environment due to the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The economic slowdown has reduced pollution from a wide variety of sources across many different economic sectors and geographic regions. In response, NOAA has launched a wide-ranging research effort to investigate the impact of this sudden, massive societal disruption on Earth’s air quality, weather, climate and oceans.
NOAA scientists are investigating the impact of reduced vehicle traffic, air travel and shipping, the idling of manufacturing and services, and the general decrease in economic activity in order to establish a “shutdown
baseline” of emissions and track the recovery. The goal is to improve scientific understanding of how these sources contribute to global pollution.
also created a webpage that provides links to climate data sets that epidemiological researchers can use to investigate the possible links
between weather and climate variables and transmission of COVID-19 and other
All research is being conducted under rules that put the health and safety of scientists, employees and contractors foremost, while continuing to meet NOAA’s mission needs.
Several NOAA Research laboratories are examining atmospheric measurements and changes in economic activity to evaluate the impacts on greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide and methane, and common air pollutants over time. This research will provide new and important evaluations of the scientific understanding underpinning air quality, weather forecasting and climate projections, which will improve the quality of forecasts and provide valuable information to decision makers going forward.
NOAA’s global greenhouse gas monitoring network, which continues to capture almost all of its normal long-term observations, has increased aerial sampling over urban areas in the northeastern United States to measure changes in levels of carbon dioxide, aerosols, ozone and solar radiation, which affect air quality.
Researchers are monitoring changes in local air quality in Boulder, Colorado from reduced motor vehicle travel to investigate the role of other emission sources, such as personal care and cleaning products, paints, and adhesives, in the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog. This information will be valuable in areas where ozone pollution levels exceed health guidelines.
Satellite scientists in College Park, Maryland are working closely with NOAA Research labs to double-check their space-based instruments against rapidly changing air quality conditions on the ground, and study the changing relationships between and among different types of pollutants, which will lead to improved air quality forecasts.
NOAA scientists are exploring the impact of reductions in ocean noise due to reduced maritime transportation and seismic drilling. NOAA marine scientists are collaborating to analyze data from hydrophones deployed around the United States coastal and territorial waters to measure changes and assess any impacts on fisheries and marine mammal activity.
Scientists are tapping into NOAA’s high performance computing resources and use artificial intelligence tools to perform more analyses more quickly, especially for results at the regional scale, following the resumption of normal levels of economic activity.
NOAA has created a webpage for epidemiological researchers who are investigating the possible links between weather and climate variables and the transmission of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. The webpage provides a one-stop online location for NOAA’s extensive weather and climate data sets. This information can be used by the Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health and other researchers in their COVID-19 research and modeling efforts.
Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) - or "NOAA Research" - provides the research foundation for understanding the complex systems that support our planet. Working in partnership with other organizational units of the NOAA, a bureau of the Department of Commerce, NOAA Research enables better forecasts, earlier warnings for natural disasters, and a greater understanding of the Earth. Our role is to provide unbiased science to better manage the environment, nationally, and globally.