Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Satellite Makes First Ever Observation Of Regionally Elevated Carbon Dioxide From Manmade Emissions

Date:
March 23, 2008
Source:
European Space Agency
Summary:
Using data from an environmental satellite, scientists have for the first time detected regionally elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide -- the most important greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming -- originating from manmade emissions.

Scientists have for the first time detected regionally elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide -- the most important greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming -- originating from manmade emissions. The findings show an extended plume over Europe's most populated area, the region from Amsterdam in the Netherlands to Frankfurt, Germany.
Credit: ESA - DLR - IUP, University Bremen

Using data from the SCIAMACHY instrument aboard ESA's Envisat environmental satellite, scientists have for the first time detected regionally elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide – the most important greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming – originating from manmade emissions.

Related Articles


More than 30 billion tonnes of extra carbon dioxide (CO2) is released into the atmosphere annually by human activities, mainly through the burning of fossil fuels.

According to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), this increase is predicted to result in a warmer climate with rising sea levels and an increase of extreme weather conditions. Predicting future atmospheric CO2 levels requires an increase in our understanding of carbon fluxes.

Dr Michael Buchwitz from the Institute of Environmental Physics (IUP) at the University of Bremen in Germany and his colleagues detected the relatively weak atmospheric CO2 signal arising from regional ‘anthropogenic’, or manmade, CO2 emissions over Europe by processing and analysing SCIAMACHY data from 2003 to 2005.

As illustrated in the image, the findings show an extended plume over Europe’s most populated area, the region from Amsterdam in the Netherlands to Frankfurt, Germany.

Carbon dioxide emissions occur naturally as well as being created through human activities, like the burning of fossil fuels (oil, coal, gas) for power generation, industry and traffic.

"The natural CO2 fluxes between the atmosphere and the Earth’s surface are typically much larger than the CO2 fluxes arising from manmade CO2 emissions, making the detection of regional anthropogenic CO2 emission signals quite difficult," Buchwitz explained.

"This does not mean, however, that the anthropogenic fluxes are of minor importance. In fact, the opposite is true because the manmade fluxes are only going in one direction whereas the natural fluxes operate in both directions, taking up atmospheric CO2 when plants grow, but releasing most or all of it again later when the plants decay. This results in higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations in the first half of a year followed by lower CO2 during the second half of a year with a minimum around August.

"That we are able to detect regionally elevated CO2 over Europe shows the high quality of the SCIAMACHY CO2 measurements."

Buchwitz says further analysis is required in order to draw quantitative conclusions in terms of CO2 emissions. "We verified that the CO2 spatial pattern that we measure correlates well with current CO2 emission databases and population density but more studies are needed before definitive quantitative conclusions concerning CO2 emissions can be drawn."

Significant gaps remain in the knowledge of carbon dioxide’s sources, such as fires, volcanic activity and the respiration of living organisms, and its natural sinks, such as the land and ocean.

"We know that about half of the CO2 emitted by mankind each year is taken up by natural sinks on land and in the oceans. We do not know, however, where exactly these important sinks are and to what extent they take up the CO2 we are emitting, i.e., how strong they are.

"We also don’t know how these sinks will respond to a changing climate. It is even possible that some of these sinks will saturate or turn into a CO2 source in the future. With our satellite measurements we hope to be able to provide answers to questions like this in order to make reliable predictions," Buchwitz said.

By better understanding all of the parameters involved in the carbon cycle, scientists can better predict climate change as well as better monitor international treaties aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, such as the Kyoto Protocol which addresses the reduction of six greenhouse gases.

Last year, European Union leaders highlighted the importance of cutting emissions from these manmade gases by endorsing binding targets to cut greenhouse gases by at least 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Space Agency. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Space Agency. "Satellite Makes First Ever Observation Of Regionally Elevated Carbon Dioxide From Manmade Emissions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080318110330.htm>.
European Space Agency. (2008, March 23). Satellite Makes First Ever Observation Of Regionally Elevated Carbon Dioxide From Manmade Emissions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080318110330.htm
European Space Agency. "Satellite Makes First Ever Observation Of Regionally Elevated Carbon Dioxide From Manmade Emissions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080318110330.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Lava from an active volcano on Hawaii's Big Island slowed slightly but stayed on track to hit a shopping center in the small town of Pahoa. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, thanks in part to something called feedback. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins