Tuesday, November 18, 2014

NASA Shows Stark Year in the Life of CO2

This is what your atmosphere looks like on carbon dioxide.  And it’s not a pretty sight. NASA provides a stark and stunning view of a year in the life of our planet as humans continue to emit greenhouse gases that warm the planet.  The animation comes courtesy of one of the highest-resolution computer models in existence.

Since the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide (CO2) has been rising in the atmosphere due to human activities.  Seasonal cycles mean that CO2 rises progressive throughout the fall and winter before peaking in late spring.  At that point, a flurry of plant growth in the northern hemisphere — where most land is located — draws CO2 levels down over the summer before the cycle begins again.

That process is made clear in the saw-toothed Keeling Curve, which shows ever rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.  This past spring, it topped 400 parts per million for three months, a symbolic milestone.

But while the Keeling Curve is derived from atmospheric CO2 measurements in one location, a new dataset and visual from NASA makes clear that CO2 isn’t uniformly distributed across the world.  By feeding ground measurements of CO2 and weather data into a high resolution computer model, scientists are able to show in some of the finest detail just how CO2 moves throughout the atmosphere over the course of a year.

Read More at NASA Shows Stark Year in the Life of CO2

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