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  • Tim McGill

COVID-19 Connection To Weather & Our World

The pandemic and our reaction to it is changing our environment. The virus is impacting our natural world in a number of ways. Today I want to direct your attention to some articles about these topics.

How The World Has Changed

From The Atlantic: The Pandemic Is Turning the Natural World Upside Down

This article discusses the four ways social distancing has impacted the earth including

a quieter surface that means less interference for those studying seismic activity. Other positive effects include a reduction in air pollution and changing city soundscapes.

From Gizmodo's Earther: The World Is on Track to See Its Biggest Yearly Drop in Carbon Pollution Ever

This article points out that the dramatic drop in air pollution is being accompanied by a dramatic drop in greenhouse gas emissions too. The pandemic could bring about a 1,600 megatons drop in carbon emissions or the equivalent of removing more than 345 million cars from the road.

From Wired: Satellite Data Reveals the Pandemic's Effects From Above

Satellites sensitive enough to spot a sheet of printer paper from orbit are being used to view "parts of the world where governments might not be open about how they’re handling their response to the pandemic." Humanitarian OpenStreetMap, or HOT, helps organize volunteers to map remote places where there aren't currently any detailed maps. They respond to weather disasters and now, our health disaster. They operate OpenStreetMap which is a crowdsourced "free and editable representation of the world."

From Forbes: As Humans Remain In Lockdown During Coronavirus Pandemic, Animals Roam

Wildlife is roaming more freely in cities like Chicago as large portions of the human population remain hunkered down. Coyotes are commonly seen now here in even greater numbers while in Thailand there was a recent swarm of hungry monkeys on a plaza in Lopburi. A lack of Chinese tourists there are largely responsible for an 85% reduction in visitors.

Weather's Connection To COVID-19

From Popular Science: COVID-19 Could Make This Year’s Wildfire Season More Dangerous

Firefighters will have to change their strategy and approach to fighting fires.

"The US has never had to contend with a wildfire season like this one, forest officials say. Almost every aspect of preparing for and fighting wildfires will have to change. Training sessions and emergency shelters need to be turned into no-contact zones; preventative controlled burns must be scaled back. The way firefighters work—moving from blaze to blaze and camping in groups while not on the front lines—is the perfect incubator for COVID-19."

From The Miami Herald: Coronavirus Could Create ‘Compound Disaster’ in Florida as Hurricane Season Looms

The start of hurricane season is right around the corner. FEMA is helping in the fight with the virus. Will the agency be able to handle a major landfalling hurricane while being stretched so thin already?

From EarthDay.org: Study Links Air Pollution To Higher Coronavirus Death Rates

A report that has yet to be peer reviewed from Harvard examined deaths from the virus in 3000 counties in the US. Their study concluded that "just a single microgram per cubic meter increase in the common air pollutant PM2.5 can increase the death rate COVID-19 by 15%."

From Forbes: Should You Use Public Tornado Shelters During The Coronavirus Pandemic?

April, May and June are the worst months for severe weather in Chicago. Social distancing practices could make for some tough decisions regarding seeking shelter and staying safe from tornadoes and other forms of severe weather.


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