Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach Much of the current angst at the UN regarding climate has to do with the idea of “climate reparations”. These are an imaginary debt supposedly owed by the major CO2 emitting nations to the countries of the developing world. As the story goes, we in the industrialized world have been “polluting” the atmosphere with the well-known plant food CO2, and despite the lack of any evidence of any damage caused, we’re supposed to pony up and pay the developing countries megabucks to ease their pain.
In that regard, I’ve spent the morning laughing at the results I’ve gotten from the Japanese IBUKI satellite CO2 data. It shows the net CO2 flow (emission less sequestration) on a 1°x1° grid for the planet. Their website describes the project thusly:
The Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite “IBUKI” (GOSAT), developed jointly by the Ministry of the Environment Japan, the National Institute for Environmental Studies, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (hereinafter the Three Parties), is the world’s first satellite designed specifically for monitoring atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) from space.
The satellite has been in operation since its launch on January 23, 2009. The Three Parties will now publicly distribute the data of global CO2 fluxes on a monthly and regional basis for the one-year period between June 2009 and May 2010. These flux values were estimated from ground-based CO2 monitoring data and improved GOSAT-based CO2 concentration data.
It has been confirmed that uncertainties in CO2 flux estimates can be reduced by the addition of GOSAT data to the ground-based observations. This is the first concrete demonstration of the utility of satellite-based concentration data in the estimation of global CO2 fluxes.
It is expected that this progress in the field of global carbon cycle research will lead to more reliable climate change prediction and to the development of effective environmental policies for mitigating global warming in the future.
So why was I laughing? Well, let me unfold the story. First, here is the map showing the net emissions for 2010, the only full calendar year of data in the dataset:
Now, there are some interesting things about this map.
First, it appears to be pretty accurate. For example, if you look at the lower right part of Australia, you can see the two big cities of Sydney and Melbourne as red dots in the sea of blue.
Next, you can see that while the central Pacific is a net emitter of CO2 (yellow band from above Australia to South America), the intertropical convergence zone immediately north of that is a net absorber. I speculate that this is because of the large amount of rainfall in the area. Atmospheric CO2 dissolves in rain, which is why all rain is very slightly acid. This absorbs more CO2 than in the drier area to the south.
In addition you can see that the tropics emits about twice as much as the temperate zones per square metre … not what I expected.
Next, by and large where there are lots of humans there is a lot of CO2 emitted. Yes, there are also some areas where CO2 is being emitted without much human habitation … but generally, humans = CO2.
So … I figured I’d take the data and divide it up by country, to see how much CO2 each country either emits or absorbs. The answers were pretty surprising … Figure 2 shows the top 20 biggest net emitters of CO2.
That’s where I started laughing … I can just see France demanding climate reparations from India, or the UK demanding reparations from the “Democratic” Republic of the Congo … It gets better. Figure 3 shows the top twenty sequestering nations …
Funnier and funnier … Sweden and Norway get to demand reparations from Russia, Finland can send a bill to the USA, while Australia can dun China for eco-megabucks.
Now … how can we understand some of these results? I will speculate, as I have no direct data … although it is claimed to be in the IBUKI datasets, I haven’t got there yet.
First, there are two big missing items in the previous standard CO2 accounting, sequestration and biomass burning. In most of the poor countries of the world, they are so ecologically conscious that they mainly use renewable energy for cooking and heating. And despite being all eco-sensitive and all these uncounted millions of open fires burning wood, twigs, and trash add up to a lot of CO2. Plus a bunch of pollution making up the “brown haze” over Asia, but that’s another question …
In addition, both India and China have huge permanent underground wildfires in their coal seams, spewing CO2 (plus really ugly pollution) 24/7. The other wild card is sequestration. In Australia, I speculate that it is due to the huge amount of exposed rock and sand. The mild acids in the rain and the dew dissolves the rocks and sand, sequestering the CO2.
In Canada, Norway, Sweden and Finland, I’ve got to assume that it has something to do with being far north and having lots of forests … but there are still lots of unanswered questions.
Anyhow, that was my fun for the morning … someone should write all of this up for the journals, I suppose, but I always feel like I have to give myself a lobotomy to write standard scientific prose.
Anyone want to go co-authors with me and handle the writing and the submission?
And my congratulations to my Argentinian, Brazilian, and Australian friends for winning the carbon lottery, they can demand climate reparations from every other country on the planet.
My best to everyone,
BONUS GRAPHICS: Someone requested white color at the zero level:
And here are the breakdowns by region …
THE USUAL REQUEST: If you think that someone is wrong about something, please QUOTE THEIR EXACT WORDS. I SHOUT BECAUSE THIS IS IMPORTANT. QUOTE THEIR WORDS so that we can all understand exactly what you are objecting to. If you object to a long comment and all you link to is the comment, that’s not useful. We need to know exactly what you think is incorrect, the exact words that you find to be in error.
CODE: It’s ugly, but it’s here. It’s an 18 Mb zip file including code, functions, data (NCDF files), and product sheet. I think all parts are there, ask if you have questions.
SPREADSHEET DATA: I’ve collated the country-level data into a CSV file here.
DATA: It took a while to find it, because it’s at another website. You have to register first. Afterwards, log in, click on “Product Search and Order”, and select L4A global CO2 flux.
PRODUCT SHEET: The details of the various CO2 products are here, from the same website, not sure if you have to log in first. It’s also in my zipped file above.