Record rise in Carbon dioxide level caused by 2015-16 El Nino

Record rise in Carbon dioxide level caused by 2015-16 El Nino

With its impressive collection of observational capabilities, OCO-2 will enable measurements of atmospheric Carbon dioxide to be made with sufficient precision, resolution, and coverage to faithfully characterize its sources and sinks globally over the seasonal cycle, a long-standing goal in atmospheric and climate science. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission was created to circumvent those limitations by providing a platform with which atmospheric CO2 can be measured spectrally from space over large geographic areas, thereby offering an unprecedented capability to study, in great detail, the processes that affect the concentration of the gas over a variety of spatial and temporal scales. OCO-2 has been studying Earth's climate change for the past three years and collected lots of information about carbon emission and other toxic gases which caused the rise in global temperatures.

"Now we can see that the tropical forest and plants didn't absorb as much carbon as they usually do and that's what caused this big increase in that time period", Annmarie Eldering, the deputy project scientist for the OCO-2 project, told the Los Angeles Times.

NASA satellites recorded the highest content of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for two thousand years.

Jonathan Overpeck, a University of MI scientist who was not part of the study, said the research revealed that the regional links between carbon dioxide and El Nino are more complex than previously thought, and raised concern about how the earth will respond to more future warming.


OCO-2 data showed that 2015's El Niño weather, created by warmer waters in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, led to hotter conditions in tropical regions of South America, Africa and Indonesia.

"These three tropical regions released 2.5 gigatonnes (a billion tonnes) more carbon into the atmosphere than they did in 2011".

"The team's findings imply that if future climate brings more or longer droughts, as the last El Nino did, more carbon dioxide may remain in the atmosphere, leading to a tendency to further warm Earth", Eldering added.

Carbon dioxide levels spiked during the powerful El Niño of 2015-16, but it wasn't quite clear why.

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