Using data from the SCIAMACHY instrument aboard ESA's Envisat environmental satellite, scientists have for the first time detected regionally elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide the most important greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming originating from manmade emissions.
More than 30 billion tonnes of extra carbon dioxide (CO2) is released into the atmosphere annually by human activities, mainly through the burning of fossil fuels. According to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), this increase is predicted to result in a warmer climate with rising sea levels and an increase of extreme weather conditions. Predicting future atmospheric CO2 levels requires an increase in our understanding of carbon fluxes.
Dr Michael Buchwitz from the Institute of Environmental Physics (IUP) at the University of Bremen in Germany and his colleagues detected the relatively weak atmospheric CO2 signal arising from regional anthropogenic, or manmade, CO2 emissions over Europe by processing and analysing SCIAMACHY data from 2003 to 2005.
As illustrated in the image, the findings show an extended plume over Europes most populated area, the region from Amsterdam in the Netherlands to Frankfurt, Germany.
Carbon dioxide emissions occur naturally as well as being created through human activities, like the burning of fossil fuels (oil, coal, gas) for power generation, industry and traffic.
"The natural CO2 fluxes between the atmosphere and the Earths surface are typically much larger than the CO2 fluxes arising from manmade CO2 emissions, making the detection of regional anthropogenic CO2 emission signals quite difficult," Buchwitz explained.
"This does not mean, however, that the anthropogenic fluxes are of minor importance. In fact, the opposite is true because the manmade fluxes are only
|Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto|
European Space Agency