Space-Based Observation of the Environmental Impacts of Societal Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Track: Earth Observation for Global Good

Time: 10:00-11:55 ET

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Satellite observations provide a way of quantifying the environmental impact of societal responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Significant reductions in local human activity, especially associated with fossil fuel combustion, led to significant changes in environmental variables. This was true for those directly tied to the reduced activity (e.g., tropospheric nitrogen dioxide concentrations) and those that occurred through more indirect means. Besides the air quality impacts that were first observed and widely publicized, scientists have been looking at environmental impacts of COVID-19 in areas such as reduced aircraft contrail formation, changes in surface properties that reflect levels of human activity, and response of water bodies to changed pollutant deposition. The satellite observations not only helped quantify the direct impacts, but also will help characterize the underlying naturally-occurring processes that are frequently less visible in the midst of greater human activity. The satellite observations also help those looking to provide time-sensitive, environmental information to those providing resource management and/or forecasting. In this session, examples of how satellite observations have helped inform society’s response to COVID-19 and improve our knowledge of Earth system processes will be presented.

Session Recording

This session will also feature a keynote presentation entitled, Human Misery is not a Solution to our Environmental Challenges, by Dr. Paul Wennberg.

  • Introduction: Lt Gen Larry James, USAF (Ret.), Deputy Director, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Keynote: Paul Wennberg, R. Stanton Avery Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Environmental Science and Engineering, California Institute of Technology
  • Moderator: Jack Kaye, Associate Director for Research, Earth Science Division, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Prakash Chauhan, Director, Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, ISRO
  • Pieternel F. Levelt, Department Head, R&D Department on Satellite Observations, KNMI (Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute)
  • Jessica Neu, Associate Chief Scientist, Earth Science and Technology Directorate, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Karen St. Germain, Director, Earth Science Division, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Andrew Zolli, Vice President, Global Impact Initiatives, Planet

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