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Based on data from NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2), a team of scientists from the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, have created the first global maps of human-made carbon dioxide emissions, created only from satellite views of earth.
EARTH FROM SPACE

Scientists create the first maps of human-made CO2 emissions

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Daksha Rangan
Digital Reporter

Sunday, November 6, 2016, 10:27 AM - The extent of human-made carbon dioxide emissions on earth can now be viewed on maps based solely off satellite observations.

Using data from NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2), a team of scientists from the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) have created the first global maps of human-made carbon dioxide emissions created only from space-based views of earth.


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The maps were created with a new data-processing technique, NASA notes, and the products correspond well with existing data on CO2 emissions.

The image below, courtesy of the FMI shows a map of human carbon dioxide emissions over Europe, the Middle East, and northern Africa.


The concentrations range from three parts per million below background levels (navy blue) to 3 parts per million above (pale yellow). The notably high emissions captured over Poland and Germany (top center), and Iraq and Kuwait (right) are primarily caused by fossil-fuel burning, NASA notes. The high emissions over sub-Saharan Africa (bottom), however, are due mostly to fires.


Prior to the OCO-2, there wasn't a single satellite capable of measuring carbon dioxide emissions with enough detail to relay into maps produced solely from satellite data. Previous maps would integrate data estimates from economic data and modelling results, NASA said in a statement.


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With increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, toxic air pollution can be seen, smelled, and even tasted, highlighting the significant increase in the rate of human-created greenhouse gas emissions, post-Industrial Revolution.

"[G]reenhouse gas lingers in the atmosphere for a century or more," NASA's Carol Rasmussen explains. "This means that recent human output is only a tiny part of the total carbon dioxide that OCO-2 records as it looks down toward Earth's surface."

The results, titled "Direct Space-Based Observations of Anthropogenic CO2 Emission Areas from OCO-2," were published on Nov. 1 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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