Source: NASA/JPL AIRS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio
Published: July 8, 2019

Although originally designed to measure atmospheric water vapor and temperature profiles for weather forecasting, data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua spacecraft are now also being used by scientists to observe atmospheric carbon dioxide.

This visualization shows Aqua/AIRS mid-tropospheric carbon dioxide from July 2003. Low concentrations, 360 ppm, are shown in blue and high concentrations, 385 ppm, are shown in red. Notice that despite carbon dioxide's high degree of mixing, the regional patterns of atmospheric sources and sinks are still apparent in mid-troposphere carbon dioxide concentrations.

In the southern hemisphere the jet stream flow is more directly West to East, and during the period from July to October the carbon dioxide concentration is enhanced in a belt delineated by the jet stream and lofting of carbon dioxide into the free troposphere by the high Andes is visible in this period. The zonal flow of carbon dioxide around the globe at the latitude of South Africa, southern Australia and southern South America is readily apparent.