This data visualization shows the global distribution and variation of the concentration of mid-tropospheric carbon dioxide observed by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on the NASA Aqua spacecraft over a 20 year timespan. The map in the upper panel shows the changes in the global distribution over time while the curve in the lower panel shows a time series of the zonal mean in the 40-50N latitude band. One obvious feature that we see in the data is a continual increase in carbon dioxide with time, as seen in both the time series and the shift in the color of the map from light yellow towards red as time progresses. Another feature is the seasonal variation of carbon dioxide in the northern hemisphere, which is governed by the growth cycle of plants. This can be seen both in the time series and as a pulsing in the colors on the map, with a shift towards lighter colors starting in April/May each year and a shift towards red as the end of each growing season passes into winter. The seasonal cycle is more pronounced in the northern hemisphere than the southern hemisphere, since the majority of the land mass is in the north.
Similar visualizations of AIRS carbon dioxide can be found on the webpage of NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4990.
Data Source: Carbon Dioxide (CO2) from the AQUA AIRS IR-only Level 3 CLIMCAPS: Comprehensive Quality Control Gridded Monthly V2 (SNDRAQIL3CMCCP), which is a monthly product of global coverage and of spatial resolution 1x1 degrees.