Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientist models the mysterious travels of greenhouse gas

17.02.2009
The global travel logs of greenhouse gases are based on atmospheric sampling locations sprinkled over the Earth and short towers that measure the uptake or release of carbon from a small patch of forest. But those measurements don't agree with current computer models of how plants and soils behave.

A University of Michigan researcher is developing a unique way to reconcile these crucial data.

"If we're going to adapt to climate change, we need to be able to predict what the climate will be," said Anna Michalak, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences. "We want to know how the sources and sinks of carbon will evolve in the future, and the only way we can manage climate change is with scientific information."

Michalak is discussing the work at the symposium "Improving Understanding of Carbon Flux Variability Using Atmospheric Inverse Modeling" Sunday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting here. She co-organized the session, "The Carbon Budget: Can We Reconcile Flux Estimates?" with Joyce Penner, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences.

For some 50 years, scientists have measured the amount of carbon dioxide in the air on a large scale, at an increasing number of locations sprinkled across the globe, and by sampling very small areas. Together with inventories of fossil fuel use, that's given good data about how much carbon is being pumped into the atmosphere---currently approximately 8 billion tons a year.

It's also known that half of that stays in the atmosphere. The rest comes to rest in the oceans, the earth, or is gobbled up by plants during photosynthesis.

But then the data gets harder to come by and scientists have had to make some assumptions. Those flux towers only cover a few places on Earth, and it's too cumbersome to collect data on small areas. Even a powerful new tool Michalak will be using---NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO), a satellite designed to monitor atmospheric carbon---does not paint a perfect picture. She compares the thin data strips it harvests with wrapping a basketball with floss.

The problem: Michalak said the data takes such a big-picture approach that it is difficult to isolate carbon being emitted or taken up in specific regions, or even countries. Scientists are left with an understanding of carbon sources that isn't nimble enough to understand the variability, or to be confident about predicting the future.

Michalak has developed a robust way to use available data to understand this variability called "geostatistical inverse modeling." This method breaks the globe into small regions and examines how much CO2 must have been emitted in each region to achieve the concentrations measured at atmospheric sample points. This method also allows her and her collaborators to use information from other existing satellites that measure the Earth's surface to supplement the information from the atmospheric monitoring network. Eventually, this method aims to trace the carbon levels at each sample point to a particular source or sink on the surface.

The technique, Michalak says, is like figuring out where the cream was originally poured in a cup of half-stirred coffee.

"Winds and weather patterns mix CO2 in the atmosphere just like stirring mixes cream in a cup of coffee," she said. "As soon as you start stirring, you lose some information about where and when the cream was originally added to the cup. With careful measurements and models, however, much of this information can be recovered."

"One of our big questions is how carbon sources and sinks evolve," Michalak said. "This is all with an eye on prediction and management."

Sue Nichols | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umich.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht When corals eat plastics
24.05.2018 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

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: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>