August 26, 2020   •   News

Impacts of COVID-19 on Greenhouse Gas Research, Ngonidzashe Chirinda, Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, Morocco

The COVID-19 pandemic and the global recovery are still evolving. Daily, we are gaining insights on the impacts the pandemic is having on greenhouse gas emission research. In a strange way, virtual working, that has become more prevalent during the pandemic, has afforded greenhouse gas researchers a unique opportunity to finalize manuscripts and reports they were previously unable to complete due to busy schedules.

For researchers conducting conceptual or desktop based studies, which depend on existing datasets, models and literature can continue to advance these research projects. Indeed, desktop based research is set to benefit due to several publication agencies and research groups advancing open access publication of research manuscripts and datasets.

However, the situation is different for field and measurement-based studies or those that require new data collection through face-to-face meetings or interviews (especially in remote areas). For soil greenhouse gas emission monitoring, research groups that have access to automated data collection technologies (i.e., automated chambers, eddy covariance towers), are able to continue their measurement campaigns. In contrast, research groups that depend on manual systems (i.e., static chambers) involve travelling to measurement sites which has become very complex under lock down conditions. Further, the disruption of international travel has negatively impacted greenhouse gas research exchange programmes where parties are unable to commence their research stay. Consequently, measurement campaigns that would have otherwise been led by the exchange researchers have had to be halted or postponed.    

Most greenhouse gas researchers have by now learnt new ways of working virtually and are having to adapt to the pandemic related anxiety and it’s uncertainties. This mix of circumstances in many cases has been draining and affects focus for progress planning, researching, reporting and manuscript writing. To overcome the potentially detrimental mental health challenges and to develop mental strength, researchers are having to find and adapt effective stress management techniques and habits.

By implication, to become more resilient to future crises, there is a need for mainstreaming stress management techniques to complement scientific training.