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NASA presents a year in the life of the Earth’s CO2

World Cement,

NASA has developed a simulation of how CO2 moves through the Earth’s atmosphere. The simulation visualises the dispersion of greenhouse gases (GHG), variations in CO2 levels in the northern and southern hemispheres, and how CO2 concentrations are affected by the growth cycle of vegetation throughout the seasons.

“While the presence of carbon dioxide has dramatic global consequences, it’s fascinating to see how local emission sources and weather systems produce gradients of its concentration on a very regional scale,” said Bill Putman, lead scientist on the project from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Simulations like this, combined with data from observations, will help improve our understanding of both human emissions of carbon dioxide and natural fluxes across the globe.”

The simulation has been produced using ultra-high resolution computer model GEOS-5, which was developed by scientists at NASA Goddard’s Global Modelling and Assimilation Office. It forms part of a simulation known as ‘Nature Run’, which utilises real data on atmospheric conditions and both natural and man-made GHG emissions and particulates. The program also simulates winds, clouds, water vapour and airborne particulates, e.g. dust, black carbon, sea salt, as well as emissions from industry and volcanoes.

Computer models such as these will help scientists to learn more about carbon dioxide’s pathways from the source of emissions to the atmosphere or carbon reservoirs, such as oceans and forests. It will add to the data collected by other projects, such as the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2), which was launched earlier this year.

Adapted from press release by

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