CO2 levels rising in troposphere over rural areas

December 3, 2009
This is an aerial view of the Research Center of the Lower Atmosphere where measurements are made. Credit: UVA.

Spanish researchers have measured CO2 levels for the past three years in the troposphere (lower atmosphere) over a sparsely inhabited rural area near Valladolid. The results, which are the first of their kind in the Iberian Peninsula, show that the levels rose "significantly" between 2002 and 2005.

Over recent years, physicists and have been trying to find out about carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, and how these have evolved in the over various urban and rural areas around the planet. Now a scientific team from the University of Valladolid (UVA) has published the first - and to date the only - measurements for the Iberian Peninsula.

The study, published in the latest issue of the journal Theoretical and Applied Climatology and led by Mª Luisa Sánchez, a researcher from the UVA's Atmospheric Pollution Group, shows that CO2 levels increased by 8 ppm (parts per million) between 2002 and 2005. A broader study has led the researchers to predict "an annual increase of 3 ppm" in the study area.

"The levels of this gas in uncontaminated atmospheres depend on emissions from the ground, as well as plant respiration and photosynthesis, but also on developments in the atmosphere as a whole, which may facilitate or inhibit the dispersal of this substance", Isidro Pérez, one of the authors and a researcher from the UVA's Applied Physics Department, tells SINC.

The scientists chose a flat, uncontaminated located 840 metres above sea level and 30 kilometres from the city of Valladolid. Daily and seasonal cycles related to low level jet streams were also identified, using a turbulence indicator, the so-called Richardson number.

The increase in was factored in with other characteristics observed in uncontaminated areas, such as differences between day and night. "This contrast, which is especially significant in spring, can be explained by plant respiration and photosynthesis processes, and by the turbulence or stratification of the atmosphere", explains Pérez.

Other characteristics of the troposphere

Data from a RASS sodar (a device that measures vertical temperature and wind profiles and that has a larger range than conventional meteorological towers) allowed the team to classify wind speed too. These data made it possible to obtain profiles that showed "the existence of low-level jet streams at night time, which were especially low in summer, when they were located at a maximum height of between 200 and 300 metres", says the researcher.

The physicists also analysed the thermal structure of the lower , and found "significant daytime cold advections (horizontal transportation of heat by an air current) in springtime, with temperature differences of 4.5ºC between the highest and lowest wind speeds", adds Pérez.

More information: Pérez, Isidro A.; Sánchez, María Luisa; García, María Ángeles; de Torre, Beatriz. "Daily and annual cycle of CO2 concentration near the surface depending on boundary layer structure at a rural site in Spain" Theoretical and Applied Climatology 98(3-4): 269-277, Oct 2009.

Source: FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

Explore further: Non-nuclear families function, too

Related Stories

Non-nuclear families function, too

October 19, 2009

The conventional family has changed over the past decade. According to a new study by the Working Group on Adolescence of the Andalusian Society of Family and Community Medicine, which has been published in the Spanish journal ...

Anti-smoking law helps waiters to quit smoking

September 10, 2009

Researchers from the Catalan Institute of Oncology have studied the impact of the law banning smoking in public places such as bars and restaurants on those working in these places. The results are positive - 5% of waiters ...

Almost one quarter of Spanish women take antidepressants

July 23, 2009

Psychopharmaceutical use has risen over recent years. This is fact, but what is not clear is the reason why. Researchers from four Madrid-based health centres have shown that family conflict is not a significant factor. However, ...

Lizards change their diet to avoid predators

December 2, 2009

A scientist from the University of Salamanca and another from Yale University have shown that the presence of predators affects the behaviour of Acanthodactylus beershebensis, a lizard species from the Negev Desert in the ...

Corralling the carbon cycle

November 13, 2008

( -- Scientists may have overcome a major hurdle to calculating how much carbon dioxide (CO2) is absorbed and released by plants, vital information for understanding how the biosphere responds to stress and for ...

Recommended for you

Maximizing the environmental benefits of autonomous vehicles

February 15, 2018

The added weight, electricity demand and aerodynamic drag of the sensors and computers used in autonomous vehicles are significant contributors to their lifetime energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

3.7 / 5 (6) Dec 03, 2009
CO2 levels increased by 8 ppm (parts per million)


Seriously, what's the certainty on that? What's the margin of error? This is laughable, I bet the spatial variation is greater than that!

AGW is bringing out all the guns it can muster to try and make it's brainwashing hold, We need to step up resistance and speak out against this travesty. Publicly, politically, scientifically.

3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 03, 2009
I notice that they didn't say what the absolute level was.
I can't help but wonder why, maybe it's lower than the accepted atmospheric value.
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 04, 2009
CO2 levels can be measured with considerable accuracy. While its true that the article could have shown both the method used for measurement and the error bars, generally speaking, CO2 measurements have less than .1% or so variability.

Furthermore, the 8% increase between 2002-2005 is about what is being measured worldwide. Last year the overall CO2 levels was about 390ppm or so. It increased about 2% from 2008 to 2009.

If you climate deniers do not wish to display your utter ignorance about science, chemistry, climate change, etc., I suggest that you be careful to pick on those parts of AGW which cannot be very accurately measured and confirmed. The fact that CO2 levels are rising is so easy to confirm that it cannot be seriously questioned. That rising CO2 levels cause rising temperatures is harder to definitely establish a cause and effect relationship. You are much more believable (but still wrong) confining your arguments there.
3 / 5 (2) Dec 04, 2009
CO2 levels can be measured with considerable accuracy.

Funny you mention it, I work with Servomex NDIR CO2 analyzers (among many other emissions analyzers) regularly. I'm well aware of instrumental accuracy. What I was talking about as you may or may not have noticed is spatial variation, stratification. A difference in concentrations between two or more data points cause by say rapid air currents or temperature anomalies.

I never questioned whether or not CO2 was rising, I questioned the significance of their data. If you weren't blinded by your will to see only what you want you may have noticed that.

If you wish not to display your utter arrogance and failure of assumptions, I suggest you be careful to not venture mindless guesses about someone you have no knowledge of.
not rated yet Dec 10, 2009
Last I heard the AGW camp's excuse for measuring CO2 on the side of an active volcano was due to how well CO2 mixes in the troposphere. Wouldn't that mean someone is lying?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.