New insights from OCO-2 | 10/13/2017 | Staff
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High-resolution satellite data from NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 are revealing the subtle ways that carbon links everything on Earth - the ocean, land, atmosphere, terrestrial ecosystems and human activities. Scientists using the first 2 1/2 years of OCO-2 data have published a special collection of five papers today in the journal Science that demonstrates the breadth of this research.

In addition to showing how drought and heat in tropical forests affected global carbon dioxide levels during the 2015-16 El Niño, other results from these papers focus on ocean carbon release and absorption, urban emissions and a new way to study photosynthesis. A final paper by OCO-2 Deputy Project Scientist Annmarie Eldering of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and colleagues gives an overview of the state of OCO-2 science.

Percent - Carbon - Dioxide - Emissions - Activities

More than 70 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from human activities comes from cities, but because the gas mixes rapidly into the atmosphere, urban emissions are challenging to isolate and analyze. Florian Schwandner of JPL and colleagues used OCO-2 observations to detect how carbon dioxide emissions vary around individual cities—the first time this has been done with data collected in just a few minutes from space. Over Los Angeles and the surrounding area, they were able to detect differences as small as 1 percent of total atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations within the air column below the satellite.

The OCO-2 measurements across Los Angeles were detailed enough to capture differences in concentrations within the city resulting from localized sources. They also tracked diminishing carbon dioxide concentrations as the spacecraft passed from over the crowded city to the suburbs and out to the sparsely populated desert to the north.

OCO-2 - Orbit - Carbon - Dioxide - Signals

OCO-2's orbit also allowed it to observe significant carbon dioxide signals from isolated plumes of three volcanoes on the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. One orbit directly...
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