The ocean carbon response to COVID-related emissions reductions
Can we see a signal of Corona Virus Disease (COVID)-related CO2 emissions reductions in air-sea CO2 exchange? In a recent study, Lovenduski et al. (2021) apply detection and attribution analysis to output from an ensemble of COVID-like simulations of an Earth system model to answer this question. The model produces a unique fingerprint in the sea-air pCO2 gradient (∆pCO2) that is attributable to COVID. However, the large interannual variability in the climate system makes this fingerprint difficult to detect at open ocean buoy sites. This study highlights the challenges associated with detecting statistically meaningful changes in air-sea exchange following CO2 emissions reductions, and reminds the reader that it may be difficult to observe intentional emissions reductions—such as those that we may enact to meet the Paris Climate Agreement in air-sea CO2 flux.
Reference: Lovenduski, N. S., Swart, N. C., Sutton, A. J., et al. (2021). The ocean carbon response to COVID-related emissions reductions. Geophys. Res. Lett., 48(6), e2020GL092263. https://doi.org/10.1029/2020GL092263.