NASA's climate tracking satellite reveals new study on climate change

NASA's climate tracking satellite reveals new study on climate change

Nasa has said that while the release of the Carbon dioxide can be directly attributed to El-Nino, exactly how this happened is still a matter of an ongoing study.

Studying 28 months of data from the OCO-2, Nasa scientists found that heat and droughts in the tropical regions of Africa, Indonesia, and South America were responsible for the surge in the release of atmospheric CO2. A gigaton is a billion tons. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) data also tallies with these findings, notes the report. That increase was about 3 parts per million of carbon dioxide per year - or 6.3 gigatons of carbon. It was noted that the numbers reached record levels in spite of emissions from humans not changing and remaining "roughly the same" during the 2015-2016 years.

The El Nino event in 2015 was one of the strongest since the 1950s, so it's no coincidence that 2016 was the hottest year ever recorded.

Liu's team found that the total amount of Carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from all land masses on Earth increased by three gigatons and that 80% of it came from natural processes occurring in tropical forests in South America, Africa and Indonesia and each region contributed roughly the same amount.

The climate cycle El Nino was a central suspect but it was unclear assuredly how. NASA gave new research discoveries in a conference on Oct 12 that featured Liu with Michael Freilich, executive of the Earth Science Division at NASA base camp in Washington, D.C.; Annmarie Eldering, the OCO-2 deputy project scientist at JPL; and Scott Denning, Professor of environmental science at Colorado State University. Precipitation data from satellite measurements and terrestrial rain data revealed that plants were decomposing faster in the tropical forests in Africa, thereby releasing more Carbon dioxide and absorbing less of it. Temperatures also were higher than normal. Warmer weather in Africa accelerated plant decomposition, adding to atmospheric carbon.

The Amazon basin, according to Liu's findings, experienced the most severe drought in 30 years.

So, NASA published 5 studies to show the importance of the OCO-2 mission. However, the OCO-2 detected a 3 ppmv jump in the recent El Niño years. "We can use these data to test our understanding of whether the response of tropical forests is likely to make climate change worse or not".

On average, Earth's land and ocean absorb about half the Carbon dioxide released by humans, with the other half leading to increasing atmospheric concentrations. It changes from season to season as plants grow and die, with higher concentrations in the winter and lower amounts in the summer.

The increased burning of fossil fuels since the industrial revolution has driven up the amount of Carbon dioxide held in the atmosphere to unprecedented levels. Thus, vegetation absorbed less carbon from the atmosphere, and the effect was to increase the net amount of carbon released into the atmosphere. There is natural variation, and in some years the absorption is as little as 20% of human emissions, while in other years as much as 80% can be scrubbed from the atmosphere. NASA researcher Junjie Liu used the advanced spectrographic tools on OCO-2 to determine how carbon levels are changing over time.