Spikes in carbon emissions detected with NASA satellite

October 12, 2017
This photo from 2014 shows an artist's rendering obtained from NASA/JPL-Caltech of NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO)-2, w
This photo from 2014 shows an artist's rendering obtained from NASA/JPL-Caltech of NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO)-2, which examines how carbon dioxide moves across the Earth system and how it changes over time

Data from a circling NASA satellite shows spikes in carbon emissions worldwide, particularly in winter, along with new insights into the rising levels of pollutants that drive global warming, researchers said Thursday.

The findings in the journal Science are based on data from a carbon-tracking satellite launched in 2014 by the US space agency, known as NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2).

The satellite's mission is to examine how carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas produced by the burning of fossil fuel, moves across the Earth system and how it changes over time.

"The data reveal a striking change in the carbon cycle in the Northern Hemisphere across seasons, where in the spring there's a dramatic uptake of carbon by terrestrial plants," said one of the five papers in Science.

"During the winter, however, carbon uptake by plants is minimal, while the breakdown or decay of plant material feeds carbon back into the atmosphere."

This cycle, coupled with the continual emissions from over China, Europe and the southeast United States, means carbon levels reach a seasonal high in April in the , it said.

Then, as spring gets under way and summer approaches, plants begin to soak up more carbon again.

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Data from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, collected in 2015, indicate that the springtime terrestrial sink of carbon began in Europe and propagated eastward across Asia and North America over the months of May and June. Credit: A. Eldering et al., Science (2017)

Another study in Science found that the ocean warming phenomenon known as El Nino resulted in far more carbon release in the tropics than in previous years.

El Nino is a weather pattern that causes sea surface temperature and air pressure in the Pacific Ocean to fluctuate, and may last years at a time.

The 2015 El Nino "resulted in the release of about 2.5 gigatons more carbon into the atmosphere in 2015 than in 2011," said the report.

"Lower precipitation in South America and increased temperatures in Africa were key drivers" of this change, it added.

In tropical Asia, the increased was mostly due to biomass burning.

Since climate change is expected to bring less rain to South America and higher temperatures to Africa by the end of the century, researchers warn the trend will get worse in the tropics, which have traditionally served as a buffer for because they absorb so much carbon.

Explore further: Tundra loses carbon with rapid permafrost thaw

More information: A. Eldering el al., "The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 early science investigations of regional carbon dioxide fluxes," Science (2017). science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi … 1126/science.aam5782

Y. Sun el al., "OCO-2 advances photosynthesis observation from space via solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence," Science (2017). science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi … 1126/science.aam5747

A. Chatterjee at Universities Space Research Association in Columbia, MD el al., "Influence of El Niño on atmospheric CO2 over the tropical Pacific Ocean: Findings from NASA's OCO-2 mission," Science (2017). science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi … 1126/science.aam5776

J. Liu el al., "Contrasting carbon cycle responses of the tropical continents to the 2015-2016 El Niño," Science (2017). science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi … 1126/science.aam5690

F.M. Schwandner el al., "Spaceborne detection of localized carbon dioxide sources," Science (2017). science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi … 1126/science.aam5782

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Shootist
1 / 5 (3) Oct 12, 2017
When cattle, wheat, and barley have been raised on Greenland for 300-400 years (circa CE850-CE1250), give me a call, it's too cold to do that now.
aksdad
1 / 5 (3) Oct 13, 2017
It is fascinating to watch the video of "carbon emissions" through an entire year. What stands out is how voluminous natural emissions are (96%}, dwarfing the man made sources (4%) over which there is so much concern expressed by a very vocal few.
barakn
4 / 5 (1) Oct 13, 2017
No evidence for wheat growing there at all. Zip, zilch, nada. The evidence for barley consists of a few scorched grains in a single layer at the bottom of one trash heap. "The find also substantiates a well-known text from about 1250, 'King's mirror (Konungs skuggsjá)', which mentions in passing that the Vikings attempted to grow grain on Greenland. It is the only report about cultivating barley that we have from that time and says: "As to whether any sort of grain can grow there, my belief is that the country draws but little profit from that source. And yet there are men among those who are counted the wealthiest and most prominent who have tried to sow grain as an experiment; but the great majority in that country do not know what bread is, having never seen it."" https://ancientfo...eenland/

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