Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Envisat makes first ever observation of regionally elevated CO2 from manmade emissions

19.03.2008
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.

Mariangela D'Acunto | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMZHVM5NDF_index_0.html

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA mission surfs through waves in space to understand space weather

25.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Strength of tectonic plates may explain shape of the Tibetan Plateau, study finds

25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

The dense vessel network regulates formation of thrombocytes in the bone marrow

25.07.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>