Washington: NASA scientists have revealed that first global maps created using newest carbon dioxide-monitoring satellite's data, showing one of the most detailed views of CO2 ever created.
The satellite - known as OCO-2 - has been in orbit since July. While it's returned some preliminary data, NASA showed off its global reach for the first time.
Paul Wennberg, a professor at Caltech, said that measuring an atmospheric gas to a fraction of a percent makes OCO-2 one of the most challenging remote sensing missions that have ever been attempted.
The first map shows CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. Hot spots over the Eastern Seaboard and parts of China are clearly visible, a sign of the heavy industry on the ground. South America and parts of Africa also show high CO2 levels, which scientists said is most likely due to burning fields and forest to clear them for agriculture. There are also subtle differences between the view OCO-2 has returned and what NASA's most advance computer models currently simulate, which is at the heart of why the satellite exists in the first place.
A second sensor on the satellite also measures levels of chlorophyll fluorescence, a measure of plant productivity, in finer detail than other satellites as well. NASA has previously used other satellites to show how the U.S. Corn Belt is the most productive place on the planet, and the new data from OCO-2 will further help refine the measurement of plant growth and how it relates to CO2 absorption.