Climate response to emissions reductions due to COVID-19: Initial results from CovidMIP

In a new publication in Geophysical Research Letters led by Chris D. Jones from the Met Office Hadley Centre, in Exeter, UK, a group of 49 scientists from different institutions including Wolfgang Müller, Tatiana Ilyina, Claudia Timmreck, Hongmei Li, and Michael Botzet from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M), addressed one of the currently most timely questions, how reduced emissions of aerosols and greenhouse gases during the lockdown restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 affect Earth’s climate.

Annual mean, ensemble average output from ESMs. The panel shows anomalies from the simulations with COVID-19-related emissions reductions compared to the baseline SSP2-4.5 simulations (“ssp245-covid” minus “ssp245”) for global surface air temperature. Coloured lines show ensemble average results from each model, and paler plumes show ensemble spread for each model calculated here as ±1 standard deviation across each model’s ensemble. Vertical bars to the left of each panel show each model spread (mean ±1 standard deviation) for the first year, 2020. Each model has performed a different number of ensemble members. (from Jones et al, 2021, Figure 1c)

With twelve Earth system models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, Phase 6 (CMIP6) they performed coordinated experiments to investigate if effects of COVID-19-related changes in societal activity are visible in the climate system. These twelve models performed over 300 model simulations spanning both initial condition and model structural uncertainty and thereby offering an unprecedent opportunity for further focused research.

 

The authors show that the imprint of COVID-19-induced changes in emissions is visible in atmospheric composition – notably aerosol optical depth over southern and eastern Asia, and in the amount of solar radiation reaching the planet’s surface. However, despite these changes in the make-up of the atmosphere, no detectable change in surface temperatures or rainfall could be found. They conclude that the emissions reductions were too small in magnitude and time to have a significant effect on global climate, and that larger, sustained changes on a longer timescale are required to have detectable effects. The authors recommend that both, a further focus on the regional analyses, and a detailed analysis of extremes are required to test the impacts of COVID-19-related emission reductions on near-term climate.

 

Original publication
Jones, C.D., et al. (2021) The climate response to emissions reductions due to COVID-19: Initial results from CovidMIP. Geophys. Res. Letters, https://doi.org/10.1029/2020GL091883

 

Contacts

Dr Wolfgang A. Müller
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
Phone: +49 (0) 40 41173 370
Email: wolfgang.mueller@we dont want spammpimet.mpg.de

 

Dr Tatiana Ilyina
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
Phone: +49 (0) 40 41173 164
Email: tatiana.ilyina@we dont want spammpimet.mpg.de

 

Dr Claudia Timmreck
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
Phone: +49 (0) 40 41173 384
Email: claudia.timmreck@we dont want spammpimet.mpg.de

 

Dr Hongmei Li
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
Phone: +49 (0) 40 41173 158
Email: hongmei.li@we dont want spammpimet.mpg.de

 

Michael Botzet
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
Phone: +49 (0) 40 41173 137
Email: michael.botzet@we dont want spammpimet.mpg.de