About this Research Topic
The recent COVID-19 induced lockdowns significantly impacted the environment throughout the world. These impacts were “visible” as clear skies, reduced particulate pollution, and cleaner inland and open waters, from rivers to marine estuaries. It was opined that such a scenario could have led to significant cooling of the Earth system while many argued this to have rather increased the heat. Either way, COVID-19 lockdowns could have affected the coastal and marine systems, which are also the reservoirs of a substantial amount of energy on Earth stored over long periods of time. It is possible that during the lockdown period, changes in energy demands would have resulted in shifts in energy cycling in the oceans and seas. On one hand, they could be releasing significant amounts of heat into the atmosphere resulting in cooler ocean temperatures. It is also possible that they would be absorbing large amounts of insolation resulting in net increase in ocean temperatures. Moreover, the establishing of quasi-pristine conditions during lockdowns at coastal sites, and the following gradual recovery of maritime activities, offered a unique opportunity for marine scientists to collect data suitable to better describe the anthropogenic impact on marine ecosystems. The lockdowns are thus expected to bring in measurable changes to the dynamics, thermodynamics, productivity, and overall ecosystems of the oceans and coasts (due to the changes in the atmosphere and the terrestrial ecosystems as a response to the reduced anthropogenic activities). The impact of the COVID-19 lockdowns in these domains has neither been researched well nor quantified yet. Hence, it is essential to assess the ongoing, long-term and possible future impacts of these changes. Considering the above facts, the Research Topic proposal envisages to:
(i) Establish whether or not oceans, seas and other water bodies underwent substantive changes traceable to COVID-19 lockdowns, and assess the type and magnitude of these impacts, if any.
(ii) Leverage all possible datasets and tools (Observations: remote platforms, in situ, historical, climatology; Modeling & Simulations: circulations, currents, what-if scenarios; Advanced tools: data mining, machine learning, artificial intelligence) covering varied possible aspects of the coastal and deeper oceans (physical, biological, geochemical, ecological, dynamics, thermodynamics & air-sea interactions) to conduct critical analysis of small to large scale changes in the ocean, seas and coasts, associated with the lockdown.
(iii) Use COVID-19 lockdowns to better understand the short period changes and long term impacts of extended periods of reduced anthropogenic activity, and hence the future climate.
In summary, the Research Topic focuses on assessing the response of the coastal and global oceans to the possible impact of reduced anthropogenic activities linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. Assessment of such impacts on the oceans is necessary given their strong memory and hence their manifestation at a later stage. This Research Topic solicits original research findings, reviews, short communications, and letters in the broad areas of (but not limited to):
• State of the coastal and deeper oceans in the COVID-19 era
• Coastal and the open ocean ecological changes before-during-after lockdowns
• Ocean observations and climate data collection in a post-pandemic scenario
• Ocean physics, biogeochemistry, energetics and pollution: observations and modeling of coastal and open oceans
• Air-sea interactions with special emphasis on assessing the role of anthropogenic contributions in modulating ocean dynamics, thermodynamics and ecosystem dynamics
• Observing the world oceans: the enhanced role of remote platforms in the lockdowns’ era
*Please note: Due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, COVID-19 specific manuscript submissions to this Research Topic received by 31st December 2020 will be automatically entitled to a full waiver.*
Keywords: Coastal Ecology, Oceanography, Satellite & in-situ observations, Model Simulations, Marine Pollution, COVID-19 lockdowns
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