NASA satellite to pinpoint sources and sinks of worlds CO2February 24th, 2009 - 2:07 pm ICT by ANI
London, Feb 24 (ANI): NASAs new climate-monitoring satellite, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO), which would pinpoint sources and sinks of carbon dioxide (CO2), will blast off today from California’’s Vandenberg Air Force Base.
According to a report in New Scientist, with the help of the satellite, scientists will be one step closer to understanding how some CO2 ends up building a dangerous greenhouse above our heads, while the rest of it gets sucked into the bowels of the Earth.
The OCO is NASAs latest climate-spying satellite. Despite the amount of attention that climate science receives, it is the first satellite to monitor precisely where and when carbon dioxide is being emitted and where and when it is being absorbed.
Hopefully, it should be able to pinpoint Earths mysterious missing carbon.
Humans currently emit 8.5 billion tonnes of carbon each year, mostly as carbon dioxide. Not all of that ends up in the atmosphere.
In fact, of all the carbon emitted since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, just 40 percent has accumulated above our heads and built up the greenhouse effect.
The remaining 60 percent has been absorbed by carbon sinks - natural reservoirs on land and at sea where carbon is stored away as organic material, like trees and plankton.
When scientists measured how much carbon has ended up in the worlds oceans, they found just half of that 60 percent. The other 30 percent is still missing, presumably stored away in a land-sink.
Most data on the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide is collected from instruments mounted on aeroplanes and land-based towers at some 100 locations around the globe.
The problem is these measurements are neither systematic nor comprehensive - they do not cover the entire planet.
To counter the problem, the OCO will use spectrometers to measure the intensity of sunlight that is reflected off the Earth.
Different gas molecules in the atmosphere, such as CO2, absorb radiation at specific wavelengths.
So, scientists will use the OCO to look for the molecular fingerprints of this absorption in sunlight that has bounced off the Earths surface.
It will focus on layers of the atmosphere at altitudes lower than 5 kilometers - which is to say, right above the carbon sources and sinks. (ANI)
- Oceans absorbing half of greenhouse emission - Aug 02, 2012
- NASA mission to help unravel climate mysteries - Jan 31, 2009
- NASA''s first spacecraft to study atmospheric CO2 to launch on Feb 23 - Jan 30, 2009
- Earth's temperature 'depends on CO2 levels in atmosphere' - Oct 15, 2010
- Bacterial chats limit carbon absorption by sea - Oct 13, 2011
- Forests remove 2.4 bn tonnes of carbon from air - Aug 11, 2011
- Climate changes will be rapid if warming continues - Dec 09, 2011
- NASA spacecraft detects significant changes in Mars' atmosphere - Apr 22, 2011
- Scrubbing CO2 from air could be a long-term commitment - Jul 02, 2010
- Carbon dioxide emissions up by 29 percent: Report - Nov 21, 2009
- Ocean warming might hit microbes' carbon storage capacity - Feb 13, 2012
- 'Southern ocean re-routes 40 percent of carbon emissions' - Jul 31, 2012
- Mapping levels of worlds greenhouse gases may help combat global warming - Jan 26, 2009
- Black carbon from India contributing in melting of Himalayan glaciers - Feb 04, 2010
- Cutting carbon concentrations can prevent drought - Mar 25, 2011
Tags: aeroplanes, bowels, carbon dioxide, climate science, gas molecules, greenhouse effect, industrial revolution, london feb, nasa, nasa satellite, natural reservoirs, new scientist, observatory, oceans, oco, organic material, plankton, sinks, vandenberg air force, vandenberg air force base