Canadian mini-satellite may solve carbon puzzle

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from the Calgary Herald: Canadian mini-satellite may solve carbon puzzle (h/t to WUWT reader “Freezedried”)

Tom Spears Canwestnews Service

Friday, February 27, 2009

While NASA lost a $285-million US satellite this week, a Canadian microsatellite that does the same job is chugging along happily in orbit –at 1/1,000th the cost.

The 30-centimetre-long University of Toronto satellite is searching for the “missing” carbon dioxide–the vast amount of Earth’s main greenhouse gas that somehow vanishes each year.

That’s what NASA’s OCO(orbiting carbon observatory) satellite would have done, if it had survived launch on Tuesday. The big difference: Canada built and launched its tiny version for $300,000.

The OCO launched but failed to reach orbit. (see WUWT story here)

https://i2.wp.com/www.utias-sfl.net/Images/canx2_1.jpg?resize=350%2C300

The CanX-2 micro satellite, shown slightly smaller than actual size (10 x 10 x 34 cm)

Details on the hardware are here

Meanwhile, the U of T’s CanX-2 is cruising 700 kilometres above Earth “and functioning really well,” after some glitches that followed its launch last April, said Ben Quine, the director of space engineering at York University–which made an instrument aboard the tiny CanX. Its job, like OCO’s, is to find Earth’s missing greenhouse gas.

“The measurement principle is almost exactly the same as the one for the OCO,”he said. “It’s very sad when you lose a spacecraft, but it also means that we are the only people in orbit with one-kilometre resolution on the ground.”

That means York’s Argus instrument can look at details below. A Japanese satellite does the same job, but can’t look at features less than 10 kilometres wide.

The problem is that where carbon dioxide comes from, and where it is sucked out of the atmosphere, remains poorly understood.

“Clearly, if we’re going to do something about climate change, we need to understand where CO2 is produced and particularly where it’s absorbed.That’s much less clear,” Quine said.

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96 thoughts on “Canadian mini-satellite may solve carbon puzzle

  1. They should have inserted one in Gore’s colon to find missing carbon. A resolution of 1 km should be enough in his case.
    I know it might not get published, but it’s pretty funny!

  2. Let’s hope there is honest reporting/analyzing of the data and that there will be cross-checking for verification purposes. Is this possible today?

  3. Once again, the “Little engine that could” reigns supreme.
    I guess the question is now can the raw data be accessed by a broad spectrum of scientists???
    Mike

  4. NASA ‘paid’ $285-million for a mission to find more about CO/GW and they somehow lost their satellite.
    To me it seems like it was already planned.
    Hope this Canadian mini-satellite gives them more information about CO that they don’t already know.

  5. Can anyone tell me if co2 is able to escape the earths atmosphere? I read once it was possible if the molecules achieved sufficient speed through a complex process but it was never explained if this ever actually happened.
    Tonyb

  6. I see the NASA culture of “not invented here” is alive and well. Why use someone else’s satellite when for 1,000 times more you can launch your own satellite?

  7. TonyB, I read not that long ago that big blobs of our atmosphere get ripped of the Earth during solar wind episodes. I guess that includes the CO2 as well. Sorry, I don’t have the link but surely tis can be found easily.
    The CO2 satellites may be able to measure CO2 concentrations but are they able to measure the RATES of emission and absorption? That would certainly be surprizing.
    I am afraid through that they will use the data to force the tax on big emitters and to penalize those countries that emit more and not really for scientific goals. But obviously, they will surely find that most CO2 is emited from natural sources and that we only contribute for a fraction of the total.

  8. The carbon dioxide is not necessarily escaping into outer space. We need to look at the obvious sinks, which are the cooling oceans and CO2 eating plant life on the earth’s surface. Isn’t that what the NASA satellite was all about?
    bb

  9. I would guess that any areas where CO2 concentrations are well below average can be assumed to be areas where absorbtion is taking place. Then other scientists can examine those areas to try and determine what is absorbing the CO2.

  10. “The problem is that where carbon dioxide comes from, and where it is sucked out of the atmosphere, remains poorly understood.”
    This is a most telling statement . . .

  11. The missing CO2 has been sequestered as a carbonate after solution in water. The oceans contain 60 times more CO2 (because of chemical sequestration) than would be expected from straightforward application of Henry’s Law.

  12. Amazing what you can do with a Lego City model kit and some old Meccano. Some party helium balloons would have been required for the launch though….

  13. This carbon anomaly has been known for a long time; I seem to recall it is something like 25% of the total carbon in circulation disappears in some unexplained way. There were stories last year of the discovery of desert soils taking up a good amount of carbon. Haven’t seen much followup on this.
    I’ts good to know that the Canucks are on the ball and have a going operation up there.
    I’m in full agreement that this carbon needs to be chased down; but I don’t think it is in anyway germane to the climate change problem; well there isn’t any climate change problem to begin with, and if there was, it would not have anything to do with carbon.
    But just from the point of the earth’s biota, carbon is a key ingredient, and we ought to know where it goes, and comes from, just for that reason.
    Too bad someone can’t come up with a research study to study H2O and find out where it comes from and goes to, and the dynamics of its phase change processes in the atmosphere, which control the earth’s surface, and lower atmosphere temperature.

  14. john H (09:38:26)
    Seems that this one was launched by India from its Sriharikota launch site into a sun-synchronous orbit, along with a gaggle of other microsats from different countries on board the same launch vehicle.

  15. Actually, the story behind these little nano-satellites is cool… and is at the provided link of http://www.utias-sfl.net/nanosatellites/CanX2/system.html
    They use off-the-shelf hardware, in this case a relatively simple ARM7 processor, and can be tossed into space using almost trivial launch facilities and lifters. They have teeny tiny thrusters and inertial positioners accurate to 1 degree. I’m impressed.
    As far as the actual sensors, and project mission, well the page is slightly more vague on that, and I don’t see a data download area.
    However, nanosatellites using today’s tech are probably at LEAST as capable as the state of the art just a decade or two past. You just have to love miniaturization, LSI, and hardware that looks like it was built from the R/C section of the local hobby store!

  16. Yes, but the millions we spent on the OCO counts as stimulus. Think how much more stimulated we will be if we build another one!

  17. Regarding where the CO2 goes. Has anyone looked at the Grand Canyon? There is almost a 1/2 mile of limestone in those layers and the layers extend through most of the American west. Guess where it came from? It was deposited there by mirco organisms in shallow seas. Guess what will happen to all the CO2 from burning fossile fuels? It will be absorbed following the natural cycles that it always has been. Will a higher steady state CO2 concentration from burning fossile fuels change things? Probably some but remember, nature has been there before and probably has well evolved ways to deal with it.

  18. From the hardware web link above:

    The Atmospheric Spectrometer, developed by Dr. Brendan Quine of York University, is an Earth imaging spectrometer. It provides measurements of airborne greenhouse gases to support the goals of the Kyoto protocol. The payload operates in the near infrared band using Earthshine spectra. It features a surface resolution of 1 km, which will enable the identification of local variation and sources of pollution emission. The data collected will be used initially to detect major sources and local variation of pollution, and subsequently to create better computer models of pollution distribution.

    The agenda is biased. Let’s see if all the data become accessible for everybody to examine.

  19. Ceolfrith, The CO2 is not really ‘missing’. Basically they want to know more about how and why the northern hemisphere has such huge fluctuation in CO2 from summer to winter.
    One idea is the dieing vegetation in the fall and subsequent increase in photosynthesis in the spring and summer. This makes since to me, but doesn’t really explain the whole change. First you have to understand that north of the equator is the vast majority of earth land mass. South of the equator you have Australia, Half of south America and a little over half of Africa. (and Antarctica which hardly counts IMHO)
    When I was a child, I was told by science teachers that the jungles in Brazil and Africa were responsible for most of the carbon reduction from the atmosphere. Today we know the Boreal Forrest, and the Oceans are larger players.
    Science is always evolving, and anyone who tells you science is settled is usually trying to sell something. When it comes to the “Big Bang” talk to Dr. Arp. When it comes to Environmental Science, talk to Dr. Christy, or any other field of science there is someone with a logical argument that is opposed to the paradigm. Sometimes they are kooks, often they are right. Rarely proven so in their lifetime.

  20. Neil Crafter (10:53:23) :
    JohnH (09:38:26) :
    “How was the Candian satellite launched?”
    Slingshot……..

    LMAO! Classic! 😀

  21. TonyB – look at this atmosphereic rape (I mean rip) of Mars: http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2008/21nov_plasmoids.htm
    Most likely it is happening also from Venus since it has a small induced magnetosphere, but not enough to block all of the solar wind. Most likely, CO2 from Venus is getting ripped off also… and heading our way. Maybe those micro-satellites should be turned toward space since it could be another source of CO2… who knows?

  22. I believe that about 50% of the CO2 produced cannot be accounted for in known sinks. This should really shake people’s faith in climate models as the modelers don’t have a clue as to where 50% of the gas they say is going to kill us actually goes. If they don’t understand the CO2 cycle how can they accurately model it? Yet so many people put blind faith in model projections. It is very depressing to think so many are so willing to be led.

  23. Off Topic but perhaps a future posting
    “Carbon Dioxide Drop and Global cooling caused Antartic Glacier to form”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090226141146.htm
    “Temperatures in some regions, just before the Antarctic glaciers formed, were surprisingly higher than current climate models predicted, suggesting that these models underestimate high-latitude warming under high CO2 conditions,” said lead author Zhonghui Liu, Pagani’s postdoctoral associate who is now an assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong. Further, he said, the substantial cooling that occurred in both Northern and Southern high latitudes suggests that a decline in CO2 level, rather than a localized change of ocean circulation drove the climate transition.”

  24. TonyB
    The short answer is that the loss is insignificant.
    There is a spread of kinetic energies due to the temperature of the atmosphere, and there will always be a slim probability that an atom or molecule has enough kinetic energy to escape a planet’s gravity and will do so if it’s high enough in the atmosphere to avoid collision. The lighter the atom or molecule is, the greater the percentage reaching escape velocity. Also, the atmopheric gases tend to stratify in layers based on atomic/molecular weight, so the lightest gasses would be highest up in the atmosphere and easiest to boil off. Over it’s 4+ billion years the Earth still retains most of it’s atmosphere, and CO2 is heavy relative to O2, N2, and Argon. The Earth should have a significant amount of Helium in it’s atmosphere from alpha decay, but this has been lost to space.

  25. Mike D. – they are now litteraly after our a**es!!!
    The funny thing in that article is that it is coming from the Natural Resources Defence Council. But I am sure this area of research will need much more fundings to get to the “bottom” of things.

  26. JohnH (09:38:26) :
    “How was the Candian satellite launched?”
    Neil Crafter (10:53:23) :
    Slingshot……
    Nope.
    Hockey stick.

  27. TonyB – Some yes. How much, never quantified by any study I know. Likely VERY VERY little. CO2 is much heavier than many other gasses in the atmosphere (O2, N2, etc), and is only 380 parts per million in the lower atmosphere.
    As for Mars, well that planet is an oddity. Not real sure what to think of that report, but so many things about mars do not apply to any other planet, nothing would surprise me (other than little green men).
    Durring times of heavy solar activity, you have
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/02/070228-mars-warming.html
    and some how that is because I drive a V6 SUV I am sure.

  28. The Canadian’s have always been a thrifty bunch. When they named their country, rather than hire an expensive marketing firm to come up with a fancy name, they simply drew letters out of a hat:
    C, eh?
    N, eh?
    D, eh?
    CANADA!!!

  29. JohnH (09:38:26) :
    How was the Candian satellite launched?
    Wait! The satellite was launched in April 2008… Al Gore visited Montreal also in April 2008. Certainly, they must have done a gravity-assist launch around Gore’s huge ego, and maybe also with the help of Jack Layton’s and Elizabeth May’s egos too.

  30. And for those wondering about how we canucks shrank the satellite to such a small size?
    Apparently the cold causes shrinkage in electronics, too….

  31. Ray (09:54:52) :
    I am afraid through that they will use the data to force the tax on big emitters and to penalize those countries that emit more and not really for scientific goals.

    If it’s found that CO2 is leaking out of the atmosphere into space, I’m afraid they’ll up the ante & say we’re not just destroying the planet, we’re destroying the universe.
    You might laugh, but….

  32. Most of the CO2 emissions we put out (excluding aircraft, of course) don’t rise above a thousand feet. After all, CO2 is almost twice as heavy as air. It is warm/hot when we emit it so it rises. It then cools as it rises and gravity brings it back. The only way for it to be absorbed by the oceans is if it sits at the surface with some downward pressure on it – ie gravity. OK turbulence will keep some aloft, but gravity is a constant while turbulence isn’t. The laugh to me was that, as the NASA rocket was waiting for launch, probably 70% of Man’s CO2 emissions were below it’s nose!!

  33. “Neil Crafter (10:53:23) :
    JohnH (09:38:26) :
    “How was the Candian satellite launched?”
    Slingshot……..”
    You mean SLAPshot… ;*)

  34. “Gary (11:20:35) :
    From the hardware web link above:
    The Atmospheric Spectrometer, developed by Dr. Brendan Quine of York University, is an Earth imaging spectrometer. It provides measurements of airborne greenhouse gases to support the goals of the Kyoto protocol. The payload operates in the near infrared band using Earthshine spectra. It features a surface resolution of 1 km, which will enable the identification of local variation and sources of pollution emission. The data collected will be used initially to detect major sources and local variation of pollution, and subsequently to create better computer models of pollution distribution.
    The agenda is biased. Let’s see if all the data become accessible for everybody to examine.”
    I agree. I see lots of words about detecting the PRODUCTION of C02, but nothing about the sinks. Seems to me this is first and foremost a taxation tool?
    It’s sounds like the C02 equivalent of the cameras at major intersections that allows the police to mail a ticket to you.
    JimB

  35. I think the agenda is clearly said in this statement ” “Clearly, if we’re going to do something about climate change, we need to understand where CO2 is produced and particularly where it’s absorbed.That’s much less clear,” Quine said.”
    Will they look only at Anthropogenic production or also at the natural emitters like some C4 plants at night?

  36. Ray (09:20:39) :
    They should have inserted one in Gore’s colon to find missing carbon. A resolution of 1 km should be enough in his case.

    Or into his head. No chance of it colliding with anything else in there….

  37. bbeeman (10:11:39) :
    The carbon dioxide is not necessarily escaping into outer space. We need to look at the obvious sinks, which are the cooling oceans and CO2 eating plant life on the earth’s surface. Isn’t that what the NASA satellite was all about?

    A Researcher at my home university of Leeds UK just had this published in Nature.
    http://blogs.nature.com/climatefeedback/2009/02/jungle_fit.html
    The trees have been getting fat on the excess co2. 🙂

  38. Simon (11:01:13) :
    Did I detect a certain smugness in this report?

    Do I detect a certain amount of pique in this comment? 😉

  39. The “missing” CO2 is not missing from nature. It’s there.
    It is called “missing” because the models cannot explain where 50% of human emissions of CO2 go.
    A model that misses the allegedly key variable by that much? Did the dog eat their homework, or what?
    Do they need a satellite to see Henry’s Law?

  40. This has a good chance of dispelling the myth that CO2 remains in the atmosphere for 100+ years. Particularly if NASA is not allowed to “adjust” the data.

  41. CO2 is heavy and tends to hug the Earth’s surface.
    I tried to find a “Carbon budget” but all the google links were pro-AGW and unreadable. I recall something from years ago that the budget was missing a sizeable proportion; but now, all the science is settled and everything is precisely known :^)

  42. Mike D. @ 11:41:48,
    [rant]
    I heard this piece of news on the radio this morning. It is a warning of just what the eniromentalists (sic) intend: complete regulation of the peoples’ behavior. The EU, gratis greenpeace et al, are planning on banning plasma TV screens.
    Now, they will ban soft toilet paper. Obviously sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll are on the list. They will not rest until humanity is reduced to a few hundred thousand specimens living in caves until they die of old age and disease at age 30. It is natural after all.
    But how do they feel about natural dentistry?
    [/rant]

  43. Mike Jewitt
    The only way for it to be absorbed by the oceans is if it sits at the surface with some downward pressure on it – ie gravity.
    Wrong! It’s a question of partial pressures in the air and in the ocean at the surface.

  44. ” Jon H (12:37:16) :
    As for Mars, well that planet is an oddity. Not real sure what to think of that report, but so many things about mars do not apply to any other planet, nothing would surprise me (other than little green men).”
    Where’s the problem? They’re obviously plant derived & breath CO2!
    They’re probably looking for the O2 sources & sinks right now!
    DaveE.

  45. “Also, the atmospheric gases tend to stratify in layers based on atomic/molecular weight, so the lightest gasses would be highest up in the atmosphere and easiest to boil off”.(Tom-R)….. Is there a link to this information?
    This is a fascinating area ……CO2 Aw is 44,H2O is 18,O2 is 32,He is 4,Argon is 40,O2is 32,N2 is 28. So we would be smothered in CO2 without the earths rotation stirring things up.
    I guess the planetary mass is very important too,wonder if Cassini has found any outgassing from Saturn?

  46. I had a friend were I used to work we used too talk a lot about the whole global warming climate change “problem” I always said to him that it was just a part of evolution, simple as that. And to stop this evolution by messing with markets or
    regulating them was just pure folly. Man is not out to destroy the planet he is
    evolving. Fossil fuels are a put of that evolution. Fourth generation PMBR reactors
    are here now why are we not using this this stuff?

  47. MarkW (10:09:24) :
    “Did the NASA satellite measure more than CO2? If not, why did it need to be so big?”
    Couple of possibilities…
    1) To carry along the CO2 that it was going to “measure”
    2) To secretly place Al Gore’s Carbon footprint in space (hide it under the rug so to speak)
    😉

  48. tallbloke (15:03:25) :
    “http://blogs.nature.com/climatefeedback/2009/02/jungle_fit.html
    The trees have been getting fat on the excess co2. 🙂 ”
    Very interesting paper – but wait, I thought increasing CO2 would led to Earth turning into Venus? Your author is clearly funded by Exxon.
    Next you will be telling me that CO2 is not a pollutant.

  49. The 1km resolution is making us safe for the moment. Should that resolution become 10 m, the chances this “scientific” tool would be used for political means such as CO2 quota per building, carbon taxation etc… would increase exponentially!

  50. Robert Wood (16:37:57) :
    “CO2 is heavy and tends to hug the Earth’s surface.”
    Hmm… I read somewhere that ozone,O3, is a massy particle. Because of this it
    tends to collect in a “layer” in the lower stratosphere. Now CO2 is only a smidgen
    less massy than O3. So any excess CO2 that gets into the stratosphere should
    behave in a similar fashion and absorb incoming LWR providing more cooling.

  51. I posted something about this before, but I’m going to again.
    When I was a kid we used to go camping for family vacations. My dad had the propane lantern, and a propane powered catalytic heater, and both used those little snap-in propane cans.
    One day, while changing the propane in the lantern, the top broke off and it started spewing propane. He ran over and put the can in the middle of the (unused) gravel road near our campsite. We watched in fascination as the VISIBLE propane, even spraying straight up out of the can at some pressure, all dropped down to ground level and collected in the ditches beside the road. You could smell the propane for HOURS afterward, especially if you were a kid like me and crouched into the ditch.
    Propane vehicles are usually not allowed in underground parkades for the same reason. Any leak, and it will pool into the low areas of the parkade and present an explosion hazard.
    CO2 and Propane have almost the exact same specific gravity:
    CO2 = 1.5189
    Propane = 1.5219
    where standard air is 1.0000
    I have to believe that CO2 and Propane act the same way in the atmosphere.

  52. I hope that the results of this survey will not be buried if it doesn’t support the holy grail of Global warming.
    And I’d like to point out that CO2 is no where close to being the “main greenhouse gas” in our atmosphere. The main greenhouse gas is water vapor, something not even being studied which given the increase in irrigation for farming in the last 30 years, is a mystery to me. Humans create far more water vapor then CO2 yet no one seems to be studying the effects that irrigation have on the atmosphere. I guess it comes down tot he same thing it does in politics, greed. Scientists can get lots of money as long as they mention CO2 and climate change in the same sentence. Too bad we wouldn’t support some real and serious research for a change.

  53. It’s amazing to me all the remedies proposed for carbon dioxide emissions when we don’t even understand the carbon dioxide cycle yet!
    This micro-satellite technology is very cool. Only $300k to build it and put it into orbit?

  54. CodeTech, the smell was not that of propane but the H2S they add in it to give it an odor in order to easily detect leaks. Most likely the propane diffused quite rapidly but the H2S “sticks” to pretty much everything it comes in contact with. But be careful, it accumulates in the blood stream and it is poisonous in high concentration.

  55. Pardon me but I am a numpty.
    I thought we were already measuring CO2 – at 300+ ppm ?
    Whats this satellitre for? If CO2 is different in different parts of the world then how valid is the current measurement?

  56. Ray: it’s methyl mercaptan (CH3SH) they put in propane and natural gas, not H2S.
    CH3SH and H2S if the subscript HTML didn’t work….

  57. Ray, since I’m not 8 anymore, I’m pretty sure you won’t find me crouching in the ditch smelling the “propane” smell… lol

  58. Yeah Les, you are right, my mistake. In any case, just like propane, CO2 does not have odor or color… just the rotten smell of political manipulation of the masses.

  59. My hunch is this:
    The AIRS data is showing a mismatch between modeled net CO2 emission, which comes not from atmospheric measurements but from receipts of purchased fossil fuels and then some tweaking to take into account stored fuels that are not readily used, minus the other half of the equation for sinks which is also a modeled product, not a measurement. The AIRS data, which is an actual derived measurement (and yes it is derived so take it with caution), certainly shows an overall buildup of CO2 since, what, 1979, but the fluctuations, and I would imagine, the total amount today, do not match the modeled net emissions. The net amount, fluctuations and mixing patterns demonstrate far more sequestration fluctuation by the time the CO2 is up in the air where it is supposed to produce global, not local, warming. So additional satellites are being sent into space on a search mission to find where the missing CO2 is going.
    Again, just my hunch, but I bet I am damed close. Or else why would these agencies be sending up any more satellites? It is just a matter of time before larger CO2 producing business start sending up their own to replicate, or call into question, the question of CO2 net emission. They will soon be sending their racing car sponsorship money to some private satellite industry instead so they can duplicated the 50 yard punt launch of the Canadian satellite and collect their own gawddamndata.

  60. Remember too that CO2 measuring stations are put into places where CO2 is being emitted. There are far fewer stations in places where there is little CO2 to measure. To make assumptions based on data from CO2 increasing pumps is the same mistake used when talking about temperature data from only those stations that show an increase.

  61. “”” Bob Wood (21:18:48) :
    If UV can split H20 why couldn’t it split CO2? “””
    Bob, where did you read that UV can split H2O ?
    We know for sure that UV can split O2 into atomic Oxygen; which enjoys being by itself like the plague, so it latches onto another O2 molecule in a hurry, to form O3 ozone. I suppose in principle three Os could meet up to make ozone, but given that the split is going to send the two Os off in opposite directions, it’s pretty unlikely that thoise two would participate in a new three way join venture, whereas a lone O will attack the next O2 it encounters which should be PDQ.
    UV that short, doesn’t propagate very deep into the atmosphere, and remember that O2 is 55 times more prevalent than CO2, so the odds don’t favor very short UV breaking up CO2, or water for that matter. The longer UV that causes sunburn does not appear to bother CO2.
    Simplest evidence for that is the Air-Mass one solar spectrum (ground level) which shows water absorption starting around 750 nm; whereas CO2 doesn’t show any solar spectrum absorption before you get to 1.9 microns in the iR, and that causes a molecular vibration; which I think is the symmetrical stretch mode, where the C stays still and the two Os move in opposite directions in the line of the molecule, exactly out of phase with each other. The Assymmetrical stretch mode where all three atoms move, but the CM stays put is I believe the 4 micron IR line of CO2.
    The symmetrical stretch mode is not supposed to be very IR active, since the charge center doesn’t move, but stays cental to the Carbon atom. That should mean that the molecule has no dipole moment, in that mode of vibration, so the antenna strength is not very good.
    My atmospheric absorption spectra shows O2 +O3 having 100% absorption below 280 nm, with a little glitch around 200, which could be where the O2 split takes place There’s some sort of O2+O3 spike right at 0.7 microns, and it is very narrow, so I would guess it is some sort of Ozone line, or at least happens at high altitude where temperature, and pressure broadening are much lower.
    George

  62. Pamela Gray (07:50:37) :
    Pamela, the AIRS satellite data were calibrated, using the baseline station data at height + several inflight data over different parts of the globe. Thus there is no mismatch between the satellite and the stations like Mauna Loa and the south pole, and both show the same trends, including seasonal variation for the same places.
    Morover, the accuracy of the AIRS satellite is in the order of +/- 5 ppmv (compared to 0.1 ppmv for the baseline stations), not even fine enough to see the trend of a few years emissions in itself, and the “view” is from a few km height on. But with the calibration, the trends can be seen, and the spatial distribution made visible by the satellite coverage is the real advantage…
    The new satellite(s) will show CO2 emissions/absorptions from ground level up, where the real exchanges take place. While the yearly emissions and CO2 levels are known with reasonable accuracy, the exact places and amounts of natural (seasonal) sinks and sources are only roughly quantified and this will show where they are…
    Pamela Gray (08:28:39) :
    The baseline stations are by definition put at places where NO important emissions and sinks are present! That is mainly over the oceans (or coastal stations with mainly seaside wind) and preferentially at high altitude. These are the stations which show the same increasing trend over the past 50 years, from near the north pole to the south pole and from sea level to 3,400 m (+ airplane and balloon measurements higher up). That is for 95% of the atmosphere, the same trends within a few ppmv…
    There are a lot of stations at places where huge emissions and sinks are present (that is in 5% of the atmosphere), but these are put there exactly to measure the regional in/out flux of mainly vegetation, see e.g. the Ameriflux network:
    http://public.ornl.gov/ameriflux/about-objective.shtml
    Or the tall tower projects in Europe:
    http://www.chiotto.org/cabauw.html
    The new satellite(s) should do the same job, but with a far better coverage.

  63. We all know that the CO2 concentration has risen to 385 ppm per Mona Laua measurements and I beleive we can identify fossil fuel contribution to this increse by specific CO2 isotopes. What percentage of the current 385 ppm concentration can be attributed to fossil fuels and which isotope is the key marker?
    Bill

  64. Science is more complicated than I, a laymen, could imagin. But I think maybe CO2 still is trapped somewhere on or around the earth, instead to flying away, due to the gravity.

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