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Measuring CO2 from Space

Measuring Carbon Dioxide from Space with the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder

Spaceborne instruments and the data they provide are essential in the study of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder on NASA's Aqua spacecraft is providing scientists with a new window into the understanding of this greenhouse gas.

Views of carbon dioxide concentrations on Earth globe made from AIRS Data. Credit: Goddard Science Visualization Studio

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Press Release:

NASA Carbon Dioxide Maps Shed Insights Into

Its Global Nature

This press release issued on October 9, 2008 details how a NASA/university study of the first-ever global satellite maps of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere has revealed new information on how this key greenhouse gas linked to climate change is distributed and moves around our world. more >

A Brief History of CO2 Measurements

JPL Historian Erik Conway provides an overview of the sequence of events

that lead to the awareness of the link between human activity, carbon dioxide,

and global warming, and how the AIRS instrument is contributing to the

challenge of measuring this greenhouse gas. more >

AIRS and CO2: From Measurement to Science

How does an instrument like AIRS measure carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and what is the data revealing? more >

Peer-Reviewed Science Papers:

Chahine, M. T., L. Chen, P. Dimotakis, X. Jiang, Q. Li, E. T. Olsen, T. Pagano, J. Randerson, and Y. L. Yung (2008), Satellite remote sounding of mid-tropospheric CO2, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L17807,

http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2008GL035022 9 September 2008




CO2 retrievals from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder: Methodology and Validation, Maddy, E.S., Barnet, C.D., Goldberg, M., Sweeney, C., Liu, X, Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres, 2008, 113, D11, D11105




Strow, L. L., and S. E. Hannon (2008), A 4-year zonal climatology of lower tropospheric CO2 derived from ocean-only Atmospheric Infrared Sounder observations, J. Geophys. Res., 113, D18302, doi:10.1029/2007JD009713.




Feldman D. R., K. N. Liou, Y. L. Yung, D. C. Tobin, A. Berk (2006), Direct retrieval of stratospheric CO2 infrared cooling rate profiles from AIRS data, Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L11803, doi:10.1029/2005GL024680.




Tiwari Y. K., M. Gloor, R. J. Engelen, F. Chevallier, C. Rodenbeck, S. Korner, P. Peylin, B. H. Braswell, M. Heimann (2006), Comparing CO 2 retrieved from Atmospheric Infrared Sounder with model predictions: Implications for constraining surface fluxes and lower-to-upper troposphere transport, J. Geophys. Res., 111, D17106, doi:10.1029/2005JD006681.




Barkley M. P., P. S. Monks, R. J. Engelen (2006), Comparison of SCIAMACHY and AIRS CO 2 measurements over North America during the summer and autumn of 2003, Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L20805, doi:10.1029/2006GL026807.




Engelen R. J., A. P. McNally (2005), Estimating atmospheric CO 2 from advanced infrared satellite radiances within an operational four-dimensional variational (4D-Var) data assimilation system: Results and validation, J. Geophys. Res., 110, D18305, doi:10.1029/2005JD005982.




Aumann H. H., D. Gregorich, S. Gaiser (2005), AIRS hyper-spectral measurements for climate research: Carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide effects, Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, L05806, doi:10.1029/2004GL021784.




Chahine M., C. Barnet, E. T. Olsen, L. Chen, E. Maddy (2005), On the determination of atmospheric minor gases by the method of vanishing partial derivatives with application to CO2, Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, L22803, doi:10.1029/2005GL024165.




Chevallier F., R. J. Engelen, P. Peylin (2005), The contribution of AIRS data to the estimation of CO 2 sources and sinks, Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, L23801, doi:10.1029/2005GL024229.


Engelen R. J., E. Andersson, F. Chevallier, A. Hollingsworth, M. Matricardi, A. P. McNally, J.-N. Thépaut, P. D. Watts (2004), Estimating atmospheric CO 2 from advanced infrared satellite radiances within an operational 4D-Var data assimilation system: Methodology and first results, J. Geophys. Res., 109, D19309, doi:10.1029/2004JD004777.




Crevoisier C., S. Heilliette, A. Chédin, S. Serrar, R. Armante, N. A. Scott (2004), Midtropospheric CO 2 concentration retrieval from AIRS observations in the tropics, Geophys. Res. Lett., 31, L17106, doi:10.1029/2004GL020141.




Engelen,R. J., Stephens,G. L. (2004), Information content of infrared satellite sounding measurements with respect to CO2, J. App. Meteor., 43, 373-378. DOI: 10.1175/1520-0450(2004)043<0373:ICOISS>2.0.CO;2




Chédin A., R. Saunders, A. Hollingsworth, N. A. Scott, M. Matricardi, J. Etcheto, C. Clerbaux, R. Armante, and C. Crevoisier, The feasibility of monitoring CO 2 from high-resolution infrared sounders, J. Geophys. Res., 108 (D2), 4064, doi:10.1029/2001JD001443, 2003.




Crevoisier,C., Chedin,A., Scott,N. A. (2003), AIRS channel selection for CO2 and other trace-gas retrievals, QJR Meteorol. Soc., 129, 2719-2740. doi: 10.1256/qj.02.180




Chedin, Serrar, Armante, Scott, Hollingsworth (2002), Signatures of annual and seasonal variations of CO2 and other greenhouse gases from comparisons between NOAA TOVS observations and radiation model simulations, J. Climate, 15, 95-116. DOI: 10.1175/1520-0442(2002)015<0095:SOAASV>2.0.CO;2

More about AIRS CO2

Frame from visualization showing the seasonal variation and increase in carbon dioxide from Sep 2002 through July 2008

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Global Carbon Dioxide Concentration