Every workday for Scientist Eric Moglia starts the same. He drives to the shipping and receiving department to retrieve packages from far-flung spots like Alaska, Mongolia and Algeria. Inside them is precious information about climate change.
But those packages might stop coming.
“Shipping is shut down,” said Moglia, reflecting on how different his job is today compared to just one month ago. Inside the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration complex in Boulder, Moglia’s life has changed because of the workplace restrictions put in place due to COVID-19.
Moglia schleps the boxes back to his basement lab where he puts on gloves and begins his routine of disinfecting everything. Each box he retrieves is specially designed to contain air flasks and are reused multiple times.
The flasks are about the size of a Nalgene bottle. They're used by NOAA to measure carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other gases that feed directly into NOAA’s world-renowned inventory. NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network has become a bizarre window into the global pandemic. Moglia worries that some sites might not be able to provide him with the air samples he needs because of it.
“Every day I come into work and I’m like, ‘Is there a new site that has new restrictions that we can’t either ship to, or are no longer able to take samples?’” Moglia said. “It’s kind of nerve-racking.”