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NASA Animation: Watching the Earth Breathe | Climate Central

NASA Animation: Watching the Earth Breathe | Climate Central | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it

When Charles Keeling first began measuring the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide levels in the late 1950’s, he noted first that they stood at about 315 parts per million (ppm), or 315 molecules of carbon dioxide for every million molecules of air.

Soon after, though, he found that the concentrations were rising, thanks to the burning of fossil fuels (today, they stand at around 395 ppm and they’re still rising). But he also noticed that the upward curve of CO2 concentrations had a sawtooth pattern. That pattern saw CO2 rise sharply in the fall in the Northern Hemisphere -- when leaves died and fell off the trees to rot -- then drop slightly in spring as new leaves emerged to start drawing in CO2 for photosynthesis. (Leaves fall and sprout in the Southern Hemisphere, too, in an exactly opposite pattern, but there’s so much more ocean and so much less land south of the Equator that the Northern effect is a lot stronger).

Now NASA has put together an animation that shows this process in a much more vivid way. Based on observations from two instruments on the Aqua spacecraft, the animation shows how the disappearance of leaves (green) leads to an increase in atmospheric CO2 (yellow-orange), first in one hemisphere, then in the other — and just as Keeling showed a half-century ago, the effect in the Northern Hemisphere is a lot stronger.

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Controversial Spewed Iron Experiment Succeeds as Carbon Sink: Scientific American

Controversial Spewed Iron Experiment Succeeds as Carbon Sink: Scientific American | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it

Fertilizing the ocean with iron could help reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, according to newly released findingsof a research cruise. Why? In a word, diatoms.

 

A hunger for iron rules the microscopic sea life of the Southern Ocean surrounding ice-covered Antarctica. Cut off from most continental dirt and dust, the plankton, diatoms and other life that make up the broad bottom of the food chain there can't get enough iron to grow. And that's why some scientists think that artificially fertilizing such waters with the metal could promote blooms that suck CO2 out of the air. Then, when these microscopic creatures die, they would sink to the bottom of the ocean and take the carbon with them.

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