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Future Earth Leans Into Earth Information Day 2020

Earth Information Day 2020, organized on November 30th by the UNFCCC as part of the Climate Change Dialogues, provided an important update on the state of the global climate system and its observation in 2020, as well as recent advances in Earth observation technology and data processing to support decision making.

Pierre Friedlingstein, member of the Global Carbon Project, took part in the dialogue session of the event by providing an update on the rising atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases. Every year, the Global Carbon Project team assesses the annual global carbon budget, providing a scientific understanding of the sources, atmospheric CO2 increase, and sinks in land and ocean systems (the 2020 Global Carbon Budget is due out mid-December).

Until 2019, fossil fuel emissions – the main driver of change in the global carbon cycle – have been increasing annually (except for a period during the global financial crisis that began in 2008). Using proxy data of socio-economic activity across the world, the Global Carbon Project calculated the decrease in daily global CO2 emissions by about 17% by early April 2020 compared with the mean 2019 levels (Le Quéré et al., 2020). The direct effect of the COVID-19 lockdown on atmospheric CO2 was negligible (drop of 1 GtC) compared to the accumulated emissions accumulated (600 GtC). In the post-COVID-19 recovery phase, government actions and economic incentives will likely influence the global CO2 emissions path for the decades ahead.

Later that day, Erik Pihl from the Future Earth Secretariat presented a peer-reviewed version of the upcoming 10 New Insights in Climate Science 2020. This annual report, led by Future Earth, the Earth League and the WCRP, highlights the latest research findings in climate science across a series of disciplines. The fourth edition of the report focuses on fundamental Earth-systems components (equilibrium climate sensitivity, abrupt permafrost thaw and sink potentials and limits), on current and future potential impacts of a changing climate (water crisis and mental health), on the impact of COVID-19 containment measures on climate change (COVID-19 effects and recovery, governing transboundary risk and economic issues) and on ways forward for societies to act for climate change (urban electrification transition and rights-based climate litigation). The report will be officially launched in mid-January.

In the poster session of the event, Delphine Lannuzel (University of Tanzania) presented a paper recently published in Nature Climate Change on the future of Arctic sea-ice biogeochemistry and ice-associated ecosystems. This publication is an outcome of the Biogeochemical Exchange Processes at Sea-Ice Interfaces (BEPSII) research community, co-sponsored by SOLAS (Surface Ocean-Lower Atmosphere Study, one of the GRP co-sponsored by Future Earth), the WCRP core project on Climate and Cryosphere (CliC), and the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR).

The presentations and posters of the Earth Information Day are available on the Climate Change Dialogues website.


Le Quéré, C., Jackson, R.B., Jones, M.W. et al. Temporary reduction in daily global CO2 emissions during the COVID-19 forced confinement. Nat. Clim. Chang. 10, 647–653 (2020).