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COVID-19 and the Environment: Impact the Ocean?


COVID-19 and The Environments Climate Crisis

Author Karisa Boyce

COVID-19 and the environment are interconnected with affects on the Ocean being overlooked. The novel coronavirus pandemic impacts each and every one of our daily lives, all the while improving the climate crisis. But, what do all these changes in human activity mean for the health of our one world Ocean? What does this mean for our wildlife animals and lastly, what does this mean for our climate crisis?

Satellite imagery reveals how the COVID-19 and the environment and the pandemic affects air quality. One upside to the devastation of human lives and global economy is healthier air for all. However, nobody is talking about how the shift in global production impacts the Ocean.

Ocean Acidification

We can visibly see from the sky the relationship between COVID-19 and the environment. Most notably, Nitrous Dioxide (NO2) emissions are on the decline in areas where social distancing measures are in place. NO2  emissions are a major air pollutant from factories and cars on the road. Coal use has also taken a dive since COVID-19 took hold.

Atmospheric transformation of NO2 and other pollutants can end up deposited on the Ocean surface. The particles cause acidification and other harmful effects on the Ocean and marine wildlife. Acidification can also block oxygen production. This is kind of a big deal because organisms in the Ocean produce over half of the world’s oxygen supply. 

Ocean acidification kills our coral reefs that are home to a vast array of aquatic species. Coral reefs are one of the world’s most diverse and productive ecosystems. The Ocean provides 3.5 billion people with their primary source of protein. Without coral reefs we have no fish. Above all, we must ask ourselves if life would exist at all without coral reefs?

When NO2  particles deposit on the Ocean surface, acidification causes a ripple of harmful effects. Most importantly, aquatic species die off can occur in local areas of acidification or dead zones. What is more, we call these localized extinction events. This can also lead to harmful algal blooms in freshwater, estuaries and our One World Ocean. 

Perhaps the most interesting effect of decreased NOis the change of Ocean color. Researchers are yet to determine just how air pollutants change the color of the Ocean. However, it is possible that the change in economic activity and the connection between COVID-19 and the environment will keep the Ocean Blue

COVID-19 and the Environment: Impact the Ocean?
COVID-19 and the Environment: Impact the Ocean?