CO2 Versus Global COVID19 Response

With the global economic response to the COVID19 epidemic, we would expect global CO2 to be rising much less than other years, if the theory of man-made global warming is indeed true.

I use data from NOAA to see what’s going on.

The estimated daily global seasonal cycle and trend value for CO2 are determined from the daily averaged CO2 data from the four NOAA/ESRL/GMD Baseline observatories. A smoothed seasonal cycle and a smoothed de-seasonalized trend curve are determined for each observatory record at daily intervals. An estimated global seasonal cycle and trend are computed by averaging the four individual observatory seasonal cycle and trend curves at each daily interval.


I chose the most official processed data there is, so I can’t be accused of cherrypicking. What I do is compare May 1st to Jan 1st of every year from 2010 to 2020. Results:

2010 1.96 0.90
2011 0.95 0.58
2012 1.50 0.68
2013 2.25 0.98
2014 1.54 0.59
2015 1.87 0.72
2016 2.34 1.20
2017 1.64 0.67
2018 1.93 0.78
2019 1.88 0.86
2020 2.07 0.96

Results are in increased ppm (parts per million). 2nd column is smoothed seasonal cycle. 3rd column is smoothed de-seasonalized trend curve.

As you can see, 2020 was the 3rd largest increasing year, after 2016 and 2013.

We would expect it to come in last. Looks like nature doesn’t respond that quickly … or at all.

Peace, -Zoe

Update 06/05/2020

# For Jan 1 to Jun 4

2010 1.55 1.16
2011 0.56 0.72
2012 0.95 0.90
2013 1.99 1.23
2014 1.43 0.76
2015 1.31 0.95
2016 1.89 1.53
2017 1.33 0.84
2018 1.71 1.00
2019 1.58 1.12
2020 1.53 1.18


wget -qO co2.txt -c      
awk '!/#/ && $2==1 && $3==1 { print $1" "$4" "$5 }' co2.txt > .start       
# Change $2 and $3 to Month and Day: (Ex: $2==5 && $3==1 for May 1st )
awk '!/#/ && $2==5 && $3==1 { print $4" "$5 }' co2.txt > .end 
paste .start .end | awk '{printf "%s %.2f %.2f\n", $1, $4-$2, $5-$3}'
rm -f .start .end

Run it:

$ bash

Published by Zoe Phin

28 thoughts on “CO2 Versus Global COVID19 Response

  1. If we’re looking at cycles from May 1 to December 31/Jan 1 of every year – and it’s May 3, 2020 today, how is it that 2020 is represented in the data? what am i missing here?


    1. Thank you.
      Due to CO2 seasonal fluctuation, taking an arbitrary rolling 4-month average may not yield sensible results.
      Another possible technique is to examine the difference between trough and peak every year, taking into account that trough is in one year, and peak is in another.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Zoe, I think Rob’s result actually does make sense; for example: it shows how ENSO is involved.

        For, what I see in his graph is that the highest peak shows up ~5 months after the strong 2015/2016 El Nino peak and the lowest through manifests ~9 months after the strong 2010/2011 La Nina. And the other peaks and throughs also correlate with the ENSO values by sign.

        Rob’s graph:

        PS. In my perception this matter also explains why it might be too soon to draw conclusions about the impact of the lockdown; next ENSO we are also faced with the seasonal CO2 cycle + a possible small phase delay. Why not wait a little bit more… in order to draw permanent conclusions at some later point in time.

        1 More thought: the lockdown had another side-effect: cleaner air =? more sunshine reaching Earth’s surface => this could result in warming of ocean surface water + less intake of CO2.

        So, this matter is not simple at all.

        (But maybe the CO2 down-phase this summer will bring CO2 back to close where it was during last fall? After all, in terms of logics the chance will be higher then for the lockdown to show any impact in CO2)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you for the comment, Martin.

          The problem I have with ENSO is that it’s not global. Other things are happening elsewhere too.

          2013 had the 2nd highest first 4-month CO2 rise while ENSO was negative from middle of 2012 to middle of 2014.

          That it’s not that simple is an understatement 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Thanks for your response Zoe (sorry for this rather late catching up).

          Regarding the ENSO in the periode mid 2012-mid 2014: it was basically neutral (with low negative values from jan 2013 until april 2014).

          Sorry, I this source does not confirm your observation regarding a very strong 4 month-record-rise; the first 4 months of 2013 were actually below the first 4 months of 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, see;

          PS. The source which you shared doesn’t show CO2.

          (Sorry, but at first glance the period that you mentioned appears to confirm my point – not sure what exactly you have in mind based on what source???)


        3. Sorry, forgot to mention the ENSO source which I am referring to:

          It shows only black values for the period that you mentioned, therefore I was talking about neutral conditions.

          PS. Aha, now I see that you have compared daily values. Daily values show large variations so that’s definitely not a solid method to assess this matter – which is confirmed by my observation involving the 4 month average values.


        4. The daily values do not show “variations”, but increase from one day to the other in a steady fashion for 4 months. This is especially true with the second value.

          Your ENSO source is very interesting. But, it says:
          “this product is preliminary and should be used with caution”

          I prefer to use the ENSO index from NOAA.

          This final chart is interesting, but very weird:

          I haven’t seen anything like it.


        5. “Measurement location = Mauna Loa”

          Martin, Why don’t you read my article and see the source that I’m using?

          I have a link to an ftp datafile. Why don’t you look at it?


        6. Zoe, when the individual sources show daily fluctuations as large as 1 ppm this implicates that based on just 4 sources the real data can not be as stable as suggested by the data which you’ve used. It’s just a model.

          Again, the numbers which you’ve listed clearly show a connection with ENSO.
          Looks like you were unaware of the ENSO relationship and since ENSO is clearly positive in the first 4 months of 2020 (+ during 2019) I think you’ll have to address this factor before jumping into conclusions.

          By the way, I would expect a few months of delay before we can see any effect of the lockdown; because we have to be aware that the CO2 measurement locations are all found somewhere “in the middle of nowhere” such as the Mauna Loa location at Hawaii central in the Pacific Ocean… though I am not convinced neither that we will see any effect sooner of later.


        7. I do not think we will see any effect of lockdown. I made an Excel spreadsheet with total CO2 emissions as Gt C since 1958. I converted the Mauna Loa values to Gt C in the atmosphere and plotted the annual increase. Also the difference was plotted as flux over land and sea. A few years moving average indicated that through all the yeas fifty per cent of the CO2 emission remains in the air and the rest absorbed by land and sea. It pictured a nice equilibrium. I wonder what will happen if we reverse the emission until it hit zero around 2100. The carbon in the air will continue to increase for some time, but will the flux over land and sea follow the CO2 concentration in the air? (Partial pressure).


        8. Martin, if you actually READ my article you would see that I use two sets of numbers: Global Seasonal Cycle and Global Trend.

          It just so happens that the seasonal curve is always increasing Jan to May.

          I still think a composite average is better than a cherrypicked location. I say that in my article.

          Liked by 1 person

        9. Aha… thanks, now I see that your data actually represents the 2 black curves in the picture that I presented.

          Be aware: you describe the data to represent a “composite average”; however, the data series are being described in the text to represent an “estimate”; the source ( suggests that the method includes a process as follows: first estimates + trend have been calculated for each of the 4 individual data sets and after that the values have been averaged:

          “An # estimated global seasonal cycle and trend are computed by averaging the four
          # individual observatory seasonal cycle and trend curves at each daily interval.# For details on the curve fitting process see#

          Again, I am sure that the average of the 4 data sets is much more erratic than what the two “estimate” black curves show. However, your presentation actually does include a description which confirms 2x that the curves involve just estimates.


        10. Still better than one location on top of a volcano.

          An ideal data set would have at least 360*180=64800 locations. When those are averaged, the daily fluctuations will be minimal.

          Like my article says: I’d rather use a model composite than be accused of cherrypicking.

          It would be silly to expect global economic reduction to show up in Hawaii so quickly.


  2. It may be a good idea to wait until things settle a bit, and then see whether Dr Berry’s physics model of natural + human carbon is able to reproduce measured data. Basically, the result of his model says 3/4 of CO2 atmospheric increase since 1750 is due to natural causes, and only 1/4 due to humans burning fuels. It’s a great simple model, partially validated by some carbon data. In case you didn’t happen to come across this paper :
    If he is right, then IPCC human carbon theory will look like rubbish. That would not come as a surprise.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you so much Zoe. Your notes fuels the doubt about the cause of CO2 rise in air. The seasonal variation measured at Mauna Loa is approx. 7 ppm CO2 corresponding to approx. 14 GtC. Usually, the variation is attributed to photosynthesis in the Northern Hemisphere. However, it is usually stated at 120 GtC and respiration by half. At the same time vegetation starts to grow in the North, the large oceans on the southern hemisphere brgin to cool. Your notes trigger the idea, the the seasonsl variation at Mauna Loa is all due to the seasonal temperature change of the oceans and nothing else. It is the concentration of CO2 in the air is ruled by an equilibrium determined by temperature. It makes sense, but too good to be true. Any comment, Zoe?


    1. You explained the cycle correctly.
      Humans do transform O2 into CO2, and so they do change the atmosphere. However, if there was ZERO natural warming, ~12/44th of the CO2 would go into oceans and land surface. The atmosphere only has enough energy to hold a certain amount of mass. Because CO2 weighs 44 g/mol, and O2 32 g/mol, the excess mass can not be maintained.

      While humans burn fossil fuels, CO2 ppm would still go up, because O2 would go down.

      However, with added natural warming, CO2 ppm goes up further.

      However, increasing vegetation blurs this picture. Vegetation increases due to man-made CO2 and NATURAL warming, which reduces CO2.

      Topic is not easy. But it’s safe to say we can and should keep burning until 1000 ppm, maybe a little more.

      Thank you for the comment, Lars.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Zoe, in a few days time you can run your once again and I’m sure we will see no hesitation in CO2-increase due to Lock-down. The higher the CO2-concentration in the air the higher is its partial pressure affecting uptake in the oceans, plankton and land vegetation – a complex equilibrium comprising Henry’s Law, chemical and biological loops in the oceans, and land vegetation as you mention. The distribution of carbon dioxide between air and land&sea is illustrated in this link:

    Click to access annex_co2.pdf


    1. That’s an interesting opinion piece, still looking over the details but -> several questionable claims are made, several measurable forcings are left out, and known mechanisms of heat transfers within the various earth systems are absent, It’s more hypnotic if the pendulum swings more than half way before heading back to the start point. It makes some good points but averages of averages plus medians of averages times averages of medians is tricky stuff, lots of ways to be clever in these arithmaticks. Picking some physics to weld on to chemistry while essentially ignoring biology, and more interesting physics and more comprehensive geography. As a stick man drawing compared to leonardos’ sketches of the inner workings of humans.

      Maybe it’s the language, words mean different things to different people. Perhaps this book will help to resolve any loss in the translations. (pun intended) / 2007 / PP-11-06.PDF the link is broken, in case it’s bad manners for a guest to impose on our hostess, can fix or remove. That link is for Zoe too, Pierre Marie Robitaille has a clear-minded way to describe chemical realities at the atomic level, how and why and when thermodynamic processes occur, and not. His work on brain scanning technologies shows that he knows how to arrange things to manipulate huge forces and yet, leave the smoke in.

      Back to your post Lars Thomsen, Henry’s law states “For any given partial pressure of a gas, the solubility will be inversely proportional to temperature”. There seems to be some overlap of behaviours attributable in one medium but somehow imposed on another in this. Air is one thing, water another, and the interface regions quite another, then add land and go round again, then add plasma and the global electrical circuits and go round again. From ‘in the beginning’ is an arbitrary way to look systems in flux, (perpetual change), as it implies some possibilty of weather without change. Thinking in terms of ‘beginning of input’ and ‘end of output’ (energy balance hypothesis) per se, but fluctation due to physics, chemistry, biology, and geology .. rolling along together in a magical dance of endless change and tremendous variety, mutually influential, as are we.


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