NASA satellites were used to study the effects of the pandemic-related reduced emissions in the atmosphere and greenhouse gases were unexpectedly high.
A recent study of From NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) revealed that dramatically reduced emissions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic had unexpected effects and did not slow down climate change. Greenhouse gases are associated with energy use, and manufacturing and transportation are some of the biggest contributors, both of which fell as a result of efforts to control the viral outbreak that spread around the world. The atmospheric changes, surprisingly, did not reflect the lower carbon emissions.
NASA regularly monitors changes in Earth’s atmosphere using a variety of techniques and equipment. One of the most useful methods relies on satellite data that can provide a global view of the variation in air pollution, weather patterns, and temperatures. With advanced computer analysis of this vast amount of information, a better understanding could be achieved, possibly identifying the effects of both natural and man-made processes and how to best reduce climate change.
Using satellite data from NASA and other space agencies, a study was conducted of recent atmospheric changes that may have resulted from reduced emissions that were a side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Little has turned positive from the spread of the virus, but there were hopes that a break with manufacturing and transportation on such a massive global scale could help with climate change. However, the study revealed that despite low carbon dioxide emissions, the growth rate of this greenhouse gas continued at roughly the same rate. Methane has a greater impact on climate change than carbon dioxide, and it also increased in the atmosphere faster than at any other time in the last decade.
Why the Earth’s atmosphere did not improve
NASA does not have a complete understanding of what happened and is investigating the unexpected atmospheric results. The concentration of greenhouse gases was expected to decline, but increased with the onset of the pandemic. One factor in this has to do with a sudden spike in activity as various parts of the world began producing and shipping products again, pushing harder than before to meet the sudden demand. This indicates that a temporary interruption in carbon production activities, which will only intensify later, will not solve the problem.
More specifically, NASA noted that the ocean does not absorb as much carbon if the pressure of carbon dioxide is low at the ocean surface. This meant that this natural process did not contribute to the reduction as much as it did when CO2 levels were higher. There is an ebb and flow in nature that is difficult to model. Also, the concentrations of nitrogen oxide, a gas that removes methane from the atmosphere, were lower. Since nitrogen oxide emissions decreased along with methane, the result was more methane in the atmosphere. The implications of From NASA The claims about this study are not that reducing emissions causes more problems, but that more effort is needed to address climate change, as simply reducing carbon emissions for a few months is not enough to enjoy lasting change .