Scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences have put together the first global carbon dioxide maps based on data from the Chinese satellite TanSat. The satellite also measures what lead researcher Yang Dongxu calls "carbon dioxide flux," changes in its behavior on Earth and in the Earth's atmosphere.

Launched in December 2016, TanSat monitors atmospheric carbon dioxide using hyperspectral imaging, gathering data from across the electromagnetic spectrum to identify different elements and materials. Tansat follows a sun-synchronous orbit to make sure it's always in sunlight. The maps are based on data recorded in April and July, 2017.

Though there are visible gaps in the data, which correspond to the gaps between the satellite's path as it completes orbits, the scientists think these could be plugged in the future by having climate satellites working in concert.

"Based on the maps, a seasonal decrease in carbon dioxide concentration from spring to summer in the Northern Hemisphere is obvious, and results from a change in the rate of photosynthesis," Yang writes. "Emission hotspots due to anthropogenic activity, such as industrial activity and fossil fuel combustion, are clearly evident in eastern China, the eastern United States, and Europe."

Historically, "the poor availability of global carbon dioxide measurements makes it difficult to estimate carbon dioxide emissions accurately," Yang explains. The researchers think TanSat's maps and measurements will benefit future research into climate change.

The maps were put together at the Chinese Academy of Science's Institute of Atmospheric Phsyics. The maps have been published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.

View gallery - 2 images