Effects of the Pandemic on Observing the Global Ocean

ESSIC/CISESS scientists Li-Qing Jiang, Alexander Kozyr, and Alexey Mishonov are co-authors on a new paper in Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society titled “Effects of the Pandemic on Observing the Global Ocean”.


Since 2000, in-situ ocean observing has been in a golden age. Global time series of mean sea surface temperature and ocean heat content are routinely calculated based on data from various platforms, enhancing our understanding of the ocean’s role in the Earth’s climate system. Maintaining this ocean observing system is a technological, logistical, and funding challenge. The global COVID-19 pandemic added strain to the maintenance of the observing system. In order to measure this strain, the researchers conducted a survey of the contributing components of the observing system that illustrates the impacts of the pandemic from January 2020 through December 2021.


They found that the pandemic did not reduce the short-term geographic coverage (days to months) capabilities mainly due to the continuation of autonomous platform observations. In contrast, the pandemic caused critical loss to longer-term (years to decades) observations, greatly impairing the monitoring of such crucial variables as ocean carbon and the state of the deep ocean. 


While the observing system has held under the stress of the pandemic, work must be done to restore the interrupted replenishment of the autonomous components and plan for more resilient methods to support components of the system that rely on cruise-based measurements.


Jiang is a chemical oceanographer specializing in the study of inorganic carbon cycling and ocean acidification in coastal and global oceans. He received his Ph.D in Oceanography from the University of Georgia in 2009 and did his postdoctoral research at Yale University. Dr. Jiang has been working at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) since 2011. He is currently the lead principal investigator of the Ocean Carbon and Acidification Data System (OCADS) project, which is partially funded by NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program (OAP). In addition to data management, Dr. Jiang has been leading the North American coastal synthesis project.


Mishonov is a researcher with extensive experience in various fields of oceanography, including ocean color, water transmissivity and particulate organic carbon study, oceanographic data management, analysis, and climate research.


To access the article, click here: “Effects of the Pandemic on Observing the Global Ocean”.