The importance of cutting emissions from these ‘anthropogenic’, or manmade, gases has been highlighted recently with European Union leaders endorsing binding targets to cut greenhouse gases by at least 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. Further illustrating the urgency to combat global warming, Britain became the first country last week to propose legislation for cutting the gases.
Careful monitoring is essential to ensuring these targets are met, and space-based instruments are new means contributing to this. The SCIAMACHY (Scanning Imaging Absorption Spectrometer for Atmospheric Chartography) instrument, for instance, is the first space sensor capable of measuring the most important greenhouse gases with high sensitivity down to the Earth’s surface because it observes the spectrum of sunlight shining through the atmosphere in ‘nadir’ looking operations.
Dr. Michael Buchwitz and Oliver Schneising from the Institute of Environmental Physics (IUP) at the University of Bremen in Germany, led by Prof. Dr. John P. Burrows produced these maps based on SCIAMACHY observations from 2003 to 2005.
Although carbon dioxide is the most important greenhouse gas, methane molecules trap heat with an efficiency that is 20 times larger than that of a molecule of carbon dioxide. Also, emissions from methane – the second most important greenhouse gas – may significantly rise in the future due to global warming if methane is released from currently frozen permafrost areas.
The new methane data also confirm findings from another study in 2005 carried out by the Institute of Environmental Physics (IUP) at the University of Heidelberg in cooperation with the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KMNI) of larger than expected methane emissions over tropical rainforests, which differed from model simulations of the same period.
"By comparing model results with satellite observations (assuming that most differences are primarily due to shortcomings of our current knowledge that has been included in the model), the model is continually adjusted until it is able to reproduce the satellite observations as closely as possible," Buchwitz said. "Based on this, we continually improve the model and our knowledge of nature."
Data from SCIAMACHY is being provided to the GMES Service Element for Atmosphere PROMOTE, which delivers policy-relevant services on multiple atmospheric issues to end-users. Feedback from these users is helping the scientists at the University of Bremen to improve their algorithms further, which is essential for reaching the accuracy level of 1 percent needed for SCIAMACHY to retrieve information on greenhouse gas sources and sinks.
Buchwitz and his colleagues used SCIAMACHY data from the same period to retrieve the columns of carbon dioxide, which occurs naturally as well as being created through human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels.
As with methane, there are significant gaps 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.
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 including methane and carbon dioxide.
With climate change being the greatest environmental challenge facing the world today, numerous studies and results on greenhouse gases will be presented at the 2007 Envisat Symposium in Montreux, Switzerland, from 23 to 27 April.
Mariangela D'Acunto | alfa
GPM sees deadly tornadic storms moving through US Southeast
01.12.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Cyclic change within magma reservoirs significantly affects the explosivity of volcanic eruptions
30.11.2016 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy