During El Niño, the tropics emit more carbon dioxide | Science News

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During El Niño, the tropics emit more carbon dioxide

The phenomenon creates warmer, drier conditions in some tropical regions that mimic future climate change

By
2:09pm, October 12, 2017
illustration of Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2

LOFTY LOOK  NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (shown in an artist’s illustration) launched in 2014 and is giving scientists an unprecedented peek into how carbon moves between land, atmosphere, and oceans on Earth.

The tropics of Asia, Africa and South America all puffed out more carbon dioxide during the strong 2015–2016 El Niño than during the 2011 La Niña, new satellite data show. Because El Niño’s warmer, drier conditions in tropical regions mimic the effects of climate change expected by the end of the century, those observations may be a sobering harbinger of the tropics’ diminishing role as a buffer for fossil fuel emissions (SN Online: 9/28/17).

The new findings come from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, or OCO-2, which launched in 2014. Five papers in the Oct. 13 Science describe some of the first data collected by the satellite, which is giving scientists an unprecedented peek into how carbon moves between land, atmosphere and oceans.

Atmospheric scientist Junjie Liu of NASA

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