Spike In Atmospheric CO2 Related To El Nino

Spike In Atmospheric CO2 Related To El Nino

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission was created to circumvent those limitations by providing a platform with which atmospheric CO2 can be measured spectrally from space over large geographic areas, thereby offering an unprecedented capability to study, in great detail, the processes that affect the concentration of the gas over a variety of spatial and temporal scales.

The three hotspots are massive swaths of tropical forest in South America, Africa, and Indonesia, which were all impacted by hotter and drier weather leading to larger carbon increases than ever before, scientists said.

These increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide were 50 percent larger than the average increase seen in recent years. Now, scientists think they know why.

Key drivers of this change in carbon emissions were lower precipitation in South America and increased temperatures in Africa.

"These three tropical regions released 2.5 gigatons more carbon into the atmosphere than they did in 2011", said Junjie Liu of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, who is lead author of the study.

Colorado State University's Scott Denning says a vicious cycle might await if future climates reflect similar conditions of heat and drought.

An artist's conception shows the OCO-2 satellite. "We can use these data to test our understanding of whether the response of tropical forests is likely to make climate change worse or not".

Specifically, the increase in carbon dioxide was due to the El Nino weather phenomenon, which scientists have long suspected. Higher-than-average temperatures combined with those climatic conditions to stress massive amounts of plant life, meaning there was less photosynthesis than normal - and thus less carbon was removed from the atmosphere than normal.

The satellite's mission is to examine how carbon dioxide moves across the Earth and how it changes over time. These changes have disturbed the Globe Carbon Cycle.

The annual increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and the magnitude of the seasonal cycle are determined by a delicate balance between Earth's atmosphere, ocean and land.

Carbon dioxide is a leading byproduct of fossil fuel burning, and its accumulation in the atmosphere heats up the Earth, hence the name "greenhouse gas". While natural processes are responsible for the exchange of carbon dioxide between the atmosphere, ocean and land, each year is different. OCO-2 has been studying Earth's climate change for the past three years and collected lots of information about carbon emission and other toxic gases which caused the rise in global temperatures.

Related Articles