NASA’s new Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) can for the first time help identify and visualize carbon sources (emitters) and sinks (absorbers), and takes 100 times more measurements (100,000 per day) than the previous best instrument in space the Japanese GEOS-5 satellite launched in 2009.
The ocean and plants on land emit more than 20 times as much CO2 into the atmosphere as humans do, but thankfully the earth reabsorbs nearly the same amount, in addition to about half of the human-produced emissions. OCO-2 will no doubt help identify and understand those natural CO2 sinks. NASA’s carbon satellite can help humanity better address and mitigate global warming and climate change.
The following image shows concentrations of CO2 between 387 and 402.5 ppm from between October 1st through November 11th. The images are from NASA’s new OCO-2 satellite and clearly shows Carbon dioxide concentrations during that time to be highest above northern Australia, southern Africa and eastern Brazil. Preliminary analysis of the African data shows the high levels there are largely driven by the burning of savannas and forests. Elevated carbon dioxide can also be seen above industrialized Northern Hemisphere regions in China, Europe and North America.
Some additional Carbon Questions and Answers (not always easily seen from space):
Q: What countries produce the most carbon emissions?
A: In tons of carbon fossil fuel emissions per person a year: USA is about 15, Europe, China are at 7 and India is about 2. Averaged out globally is about 5 tons of carbon per person for all 7+ billion world citizens.
Q: How much has CO2 increase lately?
A: Global CO2 has increased 15% since 1979
Q: What is normal amount of CO2 in the air?
A: CO2 concentrations have fluctuated between approximately 180- 280 ppm for over the last 800,000 years (during more than a 1/2 dozen ice ages) that number is now 400 ppm
Q: If 400 ppm of CO2 did exist before when was that and what differences were there verses now?
A: Yes the last time CO2 was this high (400 ppm) was during the Pliocene era 3-4 million years ago and ocean levels were much higher (60 feet/20 meters) and temperature was much warmer (+4°C in the tropics and by +10°C near the poles).
Q: How much CO2 are humans really adding?
A: Currently humans add 36 billion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere each year.
Q: How much CO2 is created or when burning carbon?
A: Each unit of carbon when burned produces 3.7 times more carbon dioxide because of the added oxygen molecules required for burning.
Q: How does burning carbon effect the oceans?
A: Over the last few decades average ocean acidity has increased from 8.1 to 7.9 (lower numbers are more acidic).
Short Video about the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) NASA Mission
In Depth Video about NASA’s The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 & Carbon’s role in Climate Change/Global Warming (1 hr + 16 minutes)
EV of the Year Judge, independent green journalist, photographer, author and sustainability activist that has published over 1000 articles. Mr Burridge’s travels have taken him to over 30 countries and 300+ major cities. He is originally from the USA, but has been residing in Australia for the last seven years. Connect to Ken Burridge on: Twitter, facebook, Google+, Linked in or website