Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientist to Create Global Maps of CO2 Using Orbiting Carbon Observatory Data

30.01.2009
The first global maps of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels based on data from NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory will be created by a University of Michigan researcher and her colleagues.

The team will use sophisticated mathematical techniques to fill information gaps between the satellite's direct measurements, the closest of which will be 93 miles apart at the equator.

Leading the carbon cartographers is Anna Michalak, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences.

OCO is scheduled to launch Feb. 23. As the first NASA satellite designed exclusively to study carbon dioxide, OCO's data, along with Michalak's maps, will provide unprecedented detail about this greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.

OCO will clarify how levels of carbon dioxide fluctuate across continents, oceans, and seasons. It will work to identify the sources and sinks of carbon across the globe. Natural sinks are places that soak up CO2, such as plants and some areas of the oceans. Understanding the Earth's natural uptakes and emissions of carbon is critical to predicting the planet's future climate.

Michalak and her colleagues' work will involve filling the information gaps between the OCO's measurement points without introducing assumptions that could obscure the results.

"Our job is really to understand the information content of the data and milk it for all it's worth, without pretending to know things we don't," Michalak said.

OCO will orbit from pole to pole, taking advantage of Earth's rotation to maximize its coverage. Each day, it will capture data from approximately 16 strips of the globe, each 10 kilometers, or 6.2 miles, wide. Every 16 days, it will return to the same place, Michalak said.

"While the OCO can measure the concentrations of carbon in the atmosphere with unprecedented detail, it can't look everywhere," she said. "Even after 16 days, the closest measured strips will be 150 kilometers apart at the equator. Also, OCO cannot see through clouds and atmospheric aerosols. Most of the world will not be directly measured."

Michalak and her colleagues will use sophisticated geostatistical modeling tools to interpolate information about the places in between OCO's measurements. An important part of their process involves using OCO data to determine how much carbon dioxide levels fluctuate across the globe. Knowing this variability will help them paint their full picture.

The scientists' tools will also tell them how certain they can be of how accurate their gap fills are in different parts of the planet.

The finished carbon maps could help solve an enduring mystery. Levels of carbon dioxide in the air have steadily increased since the Industrial Revolution. But remarkably, these atmospheric concentrations have not spiked as dramatically as emissions.

While humans emit about 8 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year by burning fossil fuels, only about 4 billion tons end up in the air. Oceans likely sequester 2 billion tons of what's missing. But that leaves 2 billion tons---25 percent---of the carbon humans emit into the atmosphere unaccounted for.

Plants are likely taking it up, Michalak says, but scientists don't know exactly where or why. Answers to such questions would help scientists predict how the carbon cycle will evolve. Studies have demonstrated that plants exposed to additional CO2 take up more of it and grow faster for a time. But then they revert to their previous behavior.

"Fundamentally, what we're trying to do is understand why and how and when and where plants and oceans are taking up carbon so that we can predict how this will change in the future. Once we have the ability to predict what happens in the future, this will allow us to design strategies for better carbon management and for dealing with climate change," Michalak said.

This research is funded by NASA.

Michalak is a fellow in the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute, which develops, coordinates and promotes multidisciplinary energy research and education at U-M.

For more information on Michalak, visit: http://www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/public/experts/ExpDisplay.php?ExpID=1381

Nicole Casal Moore | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.umich.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Scientists team up on study to save endangered African penguins
16.11.2017 | Florida Atlantic University

nachricht Climate change: Urban trees are growing faster worldwide
13.11.2017 | Technische Universität München

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: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>