For the very first time, scientists now have a high-resolution computer model of how carbon dioxide flows across the planet, courtesy of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
This fine-detailed model was created using data gathered by NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO2) satellite, which was launched in July. According to NASA’s press release, the video above is 64 times more detailed than typical global climate models.
The visualization above is from a program called “Nature Run,” which utilizes real atmospheric and emissions data to create a model based on the movement of natural and man-made particulates. According to the press release, this video clip shows atmospheric activity between May 2005 and June 2007.
“We’re very excited to share this revolutionary dataset with the modeling and data assimilation community,” said the project’s lead scientist Bill Putman, “and we hope the comprehensiveness of this product and its ground-breaking resolution will provide a platform for research and discovery throughout the Earth science community.”
Man-made greenhouse gases are generated by industrial processes such as power plant emissions and automobile exhaust, and are seen by the majority of climate scientists as a significant contributing factor to global warming and climate change. In fact, the most recent report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) asserts with 95 percent certainty that the burning of fossil fuels is directly affecting the Earth’s climate.
Looking at the model above, the largest emissions of gases are concentrated in the northern hemisphere, which corroborates the May finding of the World Meteorological Organization that the Northern Hemisphere is now super-saturated with CO2 at levels unseen for the last 800,000 years. The Southern Hemisphere, by contrast, has relatively few emissions, due to its dearth of industrialized nations.
“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 Putman. “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.”
In its Synthesis report, the IPCC recommended that world nations phase out the unregulated burning of fossil fuels by 2100 to avoid the worst impacts of climate change: drought, food scarcity, heat waves, flooding and other extreme weather conditions. Many of these impacts are already being felt across the world.
Currently, international governments still spend a collective $775 billion to subsidize the use and production of fossil fuels.