International
Brad deYoung / Oceanography at Memorial University

World - Crucial Ocean Research Disrupted by Pandemic Has Both Immediate and Long-Term Impact

Trips by research vessels have been cancelled, maintenance of instruments in ocean has been limited

There is a saying, among some scientists: "If you like your seven-day forecast, thank an oceanographer."

That's because, in a typical year, thousands of scientists head out onto and into the ocean to learn its secrets by studying things like the water's chemistry, marine life, and the structure of the ocean floor. Their findings help develop a better understanding of phenomena ranging from storm systems and marine heat waves, to long-term climate change.

Their findings don't just apply to field of ocean sciences, they affect everything from weather forecasts, to shipping schedules, to insurance rates for things like storm damage.

But, this year, because of COVID-19, trips by research vessels have been cancelled, maintenance of instruments located in the ocean has been limited, and field work postponed. All of this has scientists concerned about the resulting data gap.

"I feel like our glasses are very dirty, and they're getting dirtier as we speak," said Brad deYoung, professor of Oceanography at Memorial University.

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