Did the Drop in COVID-Related Emissions Affect the Climate?

As social and economic activity ground to a halt around the world in 2020 in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols dropped. In the United States, where lockdowns that began in March kept many Americans off the roads, emissions fell by almost 13%. Globally, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions dropped by nearly 7%. However, it’s not clear that emissions will remain low as global economies open back up, which raises the question: What impact will the short-term drop in emissions have on the climate?

In a new study, Jones et al. answer that question by comparing the results from an ensemble of a dozen Earth system models. Such multi–Earth system model intercomparison…

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