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.

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 September 22, 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 September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) Organizers of the People's Climate March and other rallies taking place in 166 countries hope to move U.N. officials to action ahead of their summit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN's Ban: Climate Change 'defining Issue of Our Time'

UN's Ban: Climate Change 'defining Issue of Our Time'

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 21, 2014) United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon marches with hundreds of thousands of people in New York for the international day of action on climate change. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Accompanied by drumbeats, wearing costumes and carrying signs, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and other cities around the world on Sunday to urge policy makers to take action on climate change. (Sept. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
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:
from the past week

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