Scientists from Scotland are all set to use data from new carbon-hunting satellites to map levels of greenhouse gases around the world for the first time.
The Earth is thought to be absorbing about 50 per cent of the carbon dioxide we put out, but little is known about exactly where it is soaked up.
AdvertisementAccording to a report in The Scotsman, researchers from the University of Edinburgh will use two new satellites to pinpoint how much CO2 (carbon dioxide) is produced from the Earth on a region-by-region basis.
They will find out which locations produce the most emissions, as well as which areas soak up the largest quantities, by analyzing data from satellites being launched by NASA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency.
Crucially, the five-year project could help identify the areas that encourage absorption of CO2, and recreating those conditions elsewhere on Earth could help tackle climate change.
Carbon dioxide from human activities is thought to be driving climate changes, but precise information about the location of sources of the gas, and those that soak it up, are currently missing.
The satellites, known as the orbiting carbon observatory (OCO) and the greenhouse gases observing satellite (GOSAT), will provide information on emissions from remote regions such as the Amazon basin, Siberian taiga, Alaskan tundra and African forests.
This will help scientists identify more effectively the environmental conditions that encourage absorption of CO2.
The analysis will also potentially help to quantify the emissions of individual countries, and will allow scientists to pinpoint more accurately the worst- polluting regions on Earth.
Measuring emitted by area could also enable adherence to emissions protocols, such as the successor to the Kyoto Protocol, to be measured.
According to Dr Paul Palmer, of the University of Edinburgh's School of Geo Sciences, who is leading the project to interpret the satellite data, "This development is unprecedented. We expect to learn where and how much is released to the atmosphere and how much is absorbed by forests and oceans, and how it moves around in the atmosphere."
"All of this will help us look for ways of combating climate change on Earth," he added.
Dr Palmer said that in this project, his team hopes to be able to create a map of the world divided into areas about the size of Colorado.