Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Better regional monitoring of CO2 needed as global levels continue rising

28.04.2008
More CO2 observatories needed to quantify progress in emission reductions, say researchers

Monitoring Earth's rising greenhouse gas levels will require a global data collection network 10 times larger than the one currently in place in order to quantify regional progress in emission reductions, according to a new research commentary by University of Colorado and NOAA researchers appearing in the April 25 issue of Science.

The authors, CU-Boulder Research Associate Melinda Marquis and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist Pieter Tans, said with atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations now at 385 parts per million and rising, the need for improved regional greenhouse gas measurements is critical. While the current observation network can measure CO2 fluxes on a continental scale, charting regional emissions where significant mitigation efforts are underway -- like California, New England and European countries -- requires a more densely populated network, they said.

"The question is whether scientists in the United States and around the world have what they need to monitor regional fluxes in atmospheric carbon dioxide," said Marquis, a scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, a joint institute of CU-Boulder and NOAA. "Right now, they don't."

While CO2 levels are climbing by 2 parts per million annually -- a rate expected to increase as China and India continue to industrialize -- effective regional CO2 monitoring strategies are virtually nonexistent, she said. Scientists are limited in their ability to distinguish between distant and nearby carbon sources and "sinks," or storage areas, for example, by the accuracy of atmospheric transport models that reflect details of terrain, winds and the mixing of gases near observation sites.

"We are in uncharted territory as far as knowing how safe these high CO2 levels are for the Earth," she said. "Instead of tackling a very complex challenge with the equivalent of Magellan's maps, we need to use the equivalent of Google Earth."

Marquis and Tans propose increasing the number of global carbon measurement sites from about 100 to 1,000, which would decrease the uncertainty in computer models and help scientists better quantify changes. "With existing tools we could gather large amounts of additional CO2 data for a relatively small investment," said Marquis. "The next step is to muster the political will to fund these efforts."

Scientists currently sample CO2 using air flasks, in-situ measurements from transmitter towers up to 2,000 feet high and via aircraft sensors. The authors proposed putting additional CO2 sensors on existing and new transmitter towers that can gather large volumes of climate data. While Europe and the United States have small networks of tall transmitter towers equipped with CO2 instruments, such towers are rare on the rest of the planet, she said.

Satellites queued for launch in the next few years to help monitor atmospheric CO2 levels include the Orbiting Carbon Observatory and the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite, said Marquis. The satellites will augment ground-based and aircraft measurements charting terrestrial photosynthesis, carbon sinks, CO2 respiration sources, ocean-atmosphere gas exchanges and CO2 emissions from wildfires.

Mandated by the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1994, national emissions inventories for each country are based primarily on economic statistics to estimate greenhouse gases entering and leaving the atmosphere, said the authors. Such inventories are "reasonably accurate" for estimating atmospheric CO2 from burning fossil fuels in developed countries.

But they are less accurate for other sources of CO2, like deforestation, and for emissions of other greenhouse gases, like methane, which is emitted as a result of rice farming, cattle ranching and natural wetlands, said the authors.

There is a growing need to measure the effectiveness of particular mitigation efforts by states or regions involved in pollution caps, auto emission reduction campaigns and intensive tree-planting efforts, Marquis said. The Western Climate Initiative, for example -- a consortium of seven western U.S. states and British Columbia -- set a goal last year of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent as of 2020.

Precise regional CO2 measurements also could help chart the accuracy of carbon trading systems involving "credits" and "offsets" now in use in various countries around the world, said Marquis. In such systems, companies exceeding CO2 emission caps can buy carbon credits from companies under the caps, and groups or companies can buy voluntary carbon offsets to compensate for personal lifestyle choices, such as airline travel.

"Independent verification through regional CO2 monitoring could help determine whether carbon credits or offsets being bought or sold are of value," Marquis said.

Melinda Marquis | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.colorado.edu
http://www.colorado.edu/news/podcasts/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht How fires are changing the tundra’s face
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

nachricht Using drones to estimate crop damage by wild boars
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

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: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A whole-body approach to understanding chemosensory cells

13.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

Water without windows: Capturing water vapor inside an electron microscope

13.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cellular Self-Digestion Process Triggers Autoimmune Disease

13.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>