Space

NASA's TIMED satellite identifies unexpected carbon dioxide trends

NASA's TIMED satellite identif...
Data from NASA's TIMED mission is forcing us to reassess our knowledge of the relationship between the Earth's lower and upper atmosphere
Data from NASA's TIMED mission is forcing us to reassess our knowledge of the relationship between the Earth's lower and upper atmosphere
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Data from NASA's TIMED mission is forcing us to reassess our knowledge of the relationship between the Earth's lower and upper atmosphere
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Data from NASA's TIMED mission is forcing us to reassess our knowledge of the relationship between the Earth's lower and upper atmosphere

NASA has analyzed 14 years worth of data collected by its Thermosphere, Inonosphere, Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) satellite, revealing a surprisingly fast increase in carbon dioxide levels in the upper atmosphere. The stats also reveal that the gas is more localized to the Northern Hemisphere than predicted by climate models.

Human activities like deforestation and burning fossil fuels are pumping huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the Earth's atmosphere. The gas is responsible for raising temperatures close to Earth's surface, but it has a very different effect in the upper atmosphere, reducing air density and actually having a cooling effect. Making sure that we have a complete understanding of how carbon dioxide moves through the planet's atmosphere is important, as it informs the most cutting edge climate models and helps us plan spacecraft flight plans.

While more than 50 years worth of ground-based data collection has confirmed that carbon dioxide levels in the lower atmosphere have been increasing by some five percent per decade, we have considerably less knowledge of the upper atmosphere.

Before the TIMED satellite started collecting data, the only measurements we had of upper atmosphere CO2 levels came from sporadic measurements by sounding rockets, research flights and the like. This made it difficult to build a complete picture of how the gas is interacting with our home planet's atmosphere.

Now, analysis of the 14 years of data collected by TIMED's radiometer reveals that CO2 levels in the region, some 70 miles (113 km) above the Earth's surface, are increasing at a much faster rate of 12 percent per decade. Furthermore, while models indicated that gas would be equally spread across the planet at such an altitude, the results shows that levels are increasing much faster over the Northern Hemisphere.

Those findings, which were corroborated by data collected by the Canadian Space Agency's SciSat-1 mission, indicate that we need to rethink our understanding of the Earth's atmosphere.

"It seems clear that we don't quite understand the relationship between the lower atmosphere and the upper atmosphere," says TIMED project scientists Diego Janches. "We tend to separate them into different fields – lower atmosphere is Earth science, upper atmosphere is heliophysics – but we need to understand the atmosphere as a complete system."

The study wouldn't have been possible without the long-term readings provided by the TIMED mission, which is lucky to still be operational – when it launched in 2003, it was only schedule for a two-year mission, but has seen its mandate extended six times.

The researchers have published their findings in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Source: NASA

11 comments
11 comments
MQ
Maybe the CO2 in the atmosphere has some unknown heat-transport mechanism from the troposphere to the thermosphere, follow the heat proxy.
Gotta get some modelling done.
Anne Ominous
But... but... the science is settled!
Kaiser Derden
we don't have 50 years of global CO2 data ... at best we have 50 years of data from one single site right next to a volcano ... the satellite records show that CO2 is not well mixed globally which the models assume (incorrectly) ... these clowns are barely scratching the surface and they want to claim they can predict temperatures 50 - 100 years out ... AGW is a fraud ... always has been ...
Mel Tisdale
Whatever this analysis shows, the temperatures are rising (last year was the hottest on record, with this year currently looking like it will beat it), the sea is absorbing ever more CO2, making it acidic, which is affecting the whole ocean food chain, while sea-levels are rising, which is going to cost billions to cope with.
Seeing as the sun is currently showing a reduction in radiation, albeit a small one, and we are nowhere near any significant change due to the Milankovitch Cycles and anyway we should be heading for an ice age but for climate change, perhaps those who deny that we humans are to blame for these rises can explain why it is that we know that we are pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere which John Tyndall proved cause the temperatures to rise, back in 1859.
For those who have an open mind rather than an open mouth and would like to see the related science, they might like to visit this site: http://www.skepticalscience.com
I am retired and extremely glad that I am not going to face the climate conditions that my son is destined to. What, for the life of me, I cannot understand is the behaviour of those who dismiss it as a hoax. One wonders if they actually know what is in store for them and their families if the temperature rise continues on its present trajectory, regardless of cause.
Tom Swift
So this is admission the climate models are wrong in that they do not take into account this phenomenon. It further shows how little is known about our planet's climate system. Probably need to tone down the chicken-little rhetoric, about end of days, climate doom, forecasts
Robert in Vancouver
I'm sure Al(The Science Is Settled)Gore and his business partners at Goldman Sachs will find ways to make billions more from their man-made global warming scam.
ppiaseck
NASA will use there observation satellite data for this but not temperature record's which show no significant warming for 18 plus years. and in the same article they use Joseph Gobbles propaganda tool, If repeat a big enough lie many times people may begin to believe it, Human activities like deforestation and burning fossil fuels are pumping huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the Earth's atmosphere. But when truth be told, We know how much man-made emissions are emitted, but we can’t measure the natural emissions or the sequestrations of CO2 at all, the error bars are huge, Humans emits 5Gt or so per year but the oceans emit about 90Gt and the land-plants about 60Gt, for a total of maybe 150Gt. Many scientists have assumed that the net flows of carbon to and from natural sinks and sources of CO2 cancel each other out, but there is no real data to confirm this and it’s just a convenient assumption. The problem is that even small fractional changes in natural emissions or sequestrations swamp the human emissions.
GooeyMuck
@ppiaseck, as the saying goes, you "can't see the forest for the trees". You are simply too caught up with the smaller details and can't seem to see the bigger picture. The amount of carbon emissions from various sources and the sequestering of carbon into various sinks takes a backseat to the net effect of whether or not CO2 concentrations are rising in the atmosphere. The latest findings indicate that CO2 concentrations in the lower atmosphere have surpassed 400 ppm. Although CO2 concentrations may have been higher during the age of dinosaurs, it has never been this high in human history.
You said that "we can’t measure the natural emissions or the sequestrations of CO2 at all". Then, you contradict yourself in the next sentence by saying "the oceans emit about 90Gt and the land-plants about 60Gt, for a total of maybe 150Gt".
You also said "many scientists have assumed that the net flows of carbon to and from natural sinks and sources of CO2 cancel each other out". I challenge you to name just one scientist who has made such a statement. If CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are rising, it would be more logical to assume that more carbon is being emitted than sequestered. The increasing amount of CO2 in the atmosphere did not come from "nowhere"; the extra CO2 had to come from somewhere. Instead of having CO2 sources and sinks that "cancel each other out", it is more likely that an imbalance has occurred -- that is, more CO2 is now being emitted and not all of that emitted amount is being absorbed by carbon sinks.
Cadence
Because so many "climate scientists" have fudged figures and lied so many times (even now the NOAA is being subponead by Congress for refusing to disclose data), and because believers insist on hiding behind "science" and "settled science" (a perfectly unscientific, even oxymoronic, term) to defend what is clearly more a religion (for most believing citizens) and an inefficient industry (for the scientists, "researchers," "green" and "alternate energy" outfits and politicians), plus the fact - denied above - that there's been no warming for two decades, requiring a name change for the believers (one that in a rational or merely sane world, or absent the religious nature of the belief, would have changed minds and wiped the movement out) we simply cannot believe anything reported on this subject. All that is clear is that it bears all the indicia of a hoax. That, plus the fact that NASA is now totally politicized, with a Muslim outreach mission.
GaryLesperance
The First law of thermodynamics is the science behind carbon emission consequences. The law states that when energy passes, as work, as heat, or with matter, into or out from a system, its internal energy changes in accord with the law of conservation of energy. In physics, the law of conservation of energy states that the total energy of an isolated system remains constant—it is said to be conserved over time. Energy can be neither created nor be destroyed, but it transforms from one form to another, for instance chemical energy can be converted to kinetic energy in the explosion of a stick of dynamite or the burning of fossil fuels. It is almost impossible to change chemical energy into kinetic energy without some consequences to the system in which it is released. With that being said, I realize that our planet is not a completely closed system. We receive energy from external sources like the sun and moon. We also receive a certain amount of water each year from meteorites that enter the atmosphere.
Those who deny the atmospheric effects of the type of energy transfer mentioned above are disregarding some very basic science. To them I would reply that it is they who are practicing apologetics for a religious construct of their imagination.
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