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 Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

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 Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers shoot for success with simulations of laser pulse-material interactions

29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Igniting a solar flare in the corona with lower-atmosphere kindling

29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

As sea level rises, much of Honolulu and Waikiki vulnerable to groundwater inundation

29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>