CANADA: NASA researchers are doing their best to understand how carbon dioxide plays into our alarming trend toward climate change. But this time, the focus isn’t on the oft-touted phrase “carbon emissions,” but carbon absorption—namely, how the Earth’s oceans, forests, and other environmental ecosystems take in about half of the carbon we produce.
Sometimes referred to as the “other half” of the carbon dioxide problem, carbon absorption is more of a study of maintenance and endurability—or, to put it simply, how much the Earth can handle and for how long, and what to do if otherwise.
The latter issue is especially pertinent, considering that carbon emissions have upticked to a concentration of 400 parts per million (ppm), which is the highest level carbon output has reached in over 400,000 years, and 2.5 times the carbon emitted in preindustrial eras.
So how have scientists been observing and charting these emissions, absorptions, and their general cause-and-effect? With NASA satellite and ISS missions, of course, which began earlier this year with the carbon emission-tracking Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 craft, and several upcoming missions.