The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the monitoring and forecasting capacity of the Earth Observing System across the globe. Valuable (open) data on the atmosphere and the oceans is missing due to the pandemic and implemented lockdowns. For example, less data is collected from sensors on commercial airplanes and ships. The data from these sensors would normally be shared with the academic community doing research into climate (e.g. air, water quality) and nature preservation (e.g. biodiversity).
The Earth Observing System collaborates with academic institutions, the space satellite industry, airline companies, and technological sensor development companies across the world. These observations provide insights into the atmosphere, ocean, and weather, and make it possible to make climate predictions and even predict extreme natural events (such as hurricanes). These models and maps can also be used to reduce the risk of natural disasters and facilitate science-based policies.
Part of the system uses commercial activities as platforms of opportunity in order to decrease costs and increase benefits to both the public and private sector. The loss of data from aircrafts will increase the forecast errors by one to two percent. The potential effects of the loss of open data need to be investigated in order to create an overview of the effects of the pandemic. The outcomes can be used to improve monitoring and research into the state of the climate on a global level.