CarbonTracker: Fixed Scale
DetailsPermalink to Details
- Added to the Catalog
- Available for
- Air: Chemistry
- People: Energy
- Carbon Dioxide
- Global Monitoring Laboratory
- Greenhouse Effect
- Greenhouse Gas
DescriptionPermalink to Description
"NOAA encourages science that adds benefit to society and the environment. CarbonTracker does both." said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher, Ph.D., former undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. CarbonTracker is a system to keep track of carbon dioxide uptake and release at the Earth's surface over time. It was developed by the Carbon Cycle Greenhouse Gases group at NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory. As a scientific tool, CarbonTracker has helped improve the understanding of carbon uptake and release from the land and oceans, and how those sources and sinks are responding to the changing climate, increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 (the CO2 fertilization effect), and human management of land and oceans. CarbonTracker relies on the long-term monitoring of atmospheric CO2 performed by the NOAA Global Monitoring Division and international partners.
This data set shows the distribution of carbon dioxide in the "free troposphere", which is the lower atmosphere below the tropopause, but above the surface-dominated planetary boundary layer. CO2 distributions are displayed for every day from 2000 through 2018. The large variations in CO2 seen here are caused by surface sources and sinks of CO2, coupled with transport of CO2 plumes by weather systems. The resulting patterns seen here are called "carbon weather".
White dots represent the times and locations of CO2 measurements from surface stations, ships, and aircraft from the more than 70 laboratories in 21 countries participating in the GLOBALVIEW+ program. These are the locations for which we know the mixing ratios of CO2 exactly. The rest of the globe is filled in by a computer model driven by our best knowledge of the surface sources and sinks (fossil fuel and biomass burning emissions, land biosphere and ocean uptake or release) of CO2 that are across the globe. On the colorbar, a white line moves to depict the global average atmospheric CO2 concentration as it changes over time.
Plumes of CO2 can be seen moving across the globe, illustrating the importance of monitoring CO2 globally, not just locally. The large variations in CO2 concentration from season to season are due to the annual cycle of summertime green-up and autumn decay of land plants. During the winter season, plants and trees respire CO2 as they shed leaves and stop growing or decay, adding significant amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere. This process reverses during spring and summer, when plants have access to sufficient sunlight and grow leaves and flowers, or increase their size substantially and remove CO2 from the atmosphere. The summer green-up is quite visible in the movie: in July the northern hemisphere shows intense blue colors, especially over the mid-latitude regions where forests and crops take up CO2 vigorously. The large change in CO2 between the seasons caused by plant activity is sometimes referred to as the 'breathing' of the planet. In the tropics, intense red areas are visible especially during July, August and September. This is due to the burning of biomass. Some of this is natural, such as dry grasses on the savannas burning, but most of it is man-made as people burn fields to prepare them for another year of production, or burn forests to make way for new agricultural lands.
This dataset is named "fixed scale," because the colorbar does not change over time, it is fixed, which is best used to show the overall growth in atmospheric CO2 concentration over time. A similar dataset, CarbonTracker: Sliding Scale, shows change of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration between 2000 - 2018 by adding a sliding scale legend, which is best used for visualizing CO2 being moved around the Earth by weather patterns.
Both datasets have small white dots, which symbolize the observation sites where glass flask atmospheric samples are taken worldwide. The observation dots are a layer that can be toggled on or off using the layers tab.
Find out more about NOAA CarbonTracker.
Next Generation Science StandardsPermalink to Next Generation Science Standards
Cross-cutting ConceptsPermalink to Cross-cutting Concepts
C1 Patterns. Students identify similarities and differences in order to sort and classify natural objects and designed products. They identify patterns related to time, including simple rates of change and cycles, and to use these patterns to make predictions.
C2 Cause and Effect. Students routinely identify and test causal relationships and use these relationships to explain change. They understand events that occur together with regularity might or might not signify a cause and effect relationship
C5 Energy and Matter. Students learn matter is made of particles and energy can be transferred in various ways and between objects. Students observe the conservation of matter by tracking matter flows and cycles before and after processes and recognizing the total weight of substances does not change.
C1 Patterns. Students recognize that macroscopic patterns are related to the nature of microscopic and atomic-level structure. They identify patterns in rates of change and other numerical relationships that provide information about natural and human designed systems. They use patterns to identify cause and effect relationships, and use graphs and charts to identify patterns in data.
C2 Cause and Effect. Students classify relationships as causal or correlational, and recognize that correlation does not necessarily imply causation. They use cause and effect relationships to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems. They also understand that phenomena may have more than one cause, and some cause and effect relationships in systems can only be described using probability.
C3 Scale Proportion and Quantity. Students observe time, space, and energy phenomena at various scales using models to study systems that are too large or too small. They understand phenomena observed at one scale may not be observable at another scale, and the function of natural and designed systems may change with scale. They use proportional relationships (e.g., speed as the ratio of distance traveled to time taken) to gather information about the magnitude of properties and processes. They represent scientific relationships through the use of algebraic expressions and equations
C4 Systems and System Models. Students can understand that systems may interact with other systems; they may have sub-systems and be a part of larger complex systems. They can use models to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes and outputs—and energy, matter, and information flows within systems. They can also learn that models are limited in that they only represent certain aspects of the system under study.
C5 Energy and Matter. Students learn matter is conserved because atoms are conserved in physical and chemical processes. They also learn within a natural or designed system, the transfer of energy drives the motion and/or cycling of matter. Energy may take different forms (e.g. energy in fields, thermal energy, energy of motion). The transfer of energy can be tracked as energy flows through a designed or natural system.
C7 Stability and Change. Students explain stability and change in natural or designed systems by examining changes over time, and considering forces at different scales, including the atomic scale. Students learn changes in one part of a system might cause large changes in another part, systems in dynamic equilibrium are stable due to a balance of feedback mechanisms, and stability might be disturbed by either sudden events or gradual changes that accumulate over time
C1 Patterns. Students observe patterns in systems at different scales and cite patterns as empirical evidence for causality in supporting their explanations of phenomena. They recognize classifications or explanations used at one scale may not be useful or need revision using a different scale; thus requiring improved investigations and experiments. They use mathematical representations to identify certain patterns and analyze patterns of performance in order to re-engineer and improve a designed system.
C2 Cause and Effect. Students understand that empirical evidence is required to differentiate between cause and correlation and to make claims about specific causes and effects. They suggest cause and effect relationships to explain and predict behaviors in complex natural and designed systems. They also propose causal relationships by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system. They recognize changes in systems may have various causes that may not have equal effects.
C3 Scale Proportion and Quantity. Students understand the significance of a phenomenon is dependent on the scale, proportion, and quantity at which it occurs. They recognize patterns observable at one scale may not be observable or exist at other scales, and some systems can only be studied indirectly as they are too small, too large, too fast, or too slow to observe directly. Students use orders of magnitude to understand how a model at one scale relates to a model at another scale. They use algebraic thinking to examine scientific data and predict the effect of a change in one variable on another (e.g., linear growth vs. exponential growth).
C5 Energy and Matter. Students learn that the total amount of energy and matter in closed systems is conserved. They can describe changes of energy and matter in a system in terms of energy and matter flows into, out of, and within that system. They also learn that energy cannot be created or destroyed. It only moves between one place and another place, between objects and/or fields, or between systems. Energy drives the cycling of matter within and between systems. In nuclear processes, atoms are not conserved, but the total number of protons plus neutrons is conserved.
Disciplinary Core IdeasPermalink to Disciplinary Core Ideas
ESS3.A Natural Resources. Energy and fuels humans use are derived from natural sources and their use affects the environment. Some resources are renewable over time, others are not.
ESS3.C Human Impact on Earth systems. Societal activities have had major effects on the land, ocean, atmosphere, and even outer space. Societal activities can also help protect Earth’s resources and environments.
ESS3.D Global Climate Change. If Earth’s global mean temperature continues to rise, the lives of humans and other organisms will be affected in many different ways.
LS2.B Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems. Matter cycles between the air and soil and among organisms as they live and die.
PS3.D Energy in Chemical Process and Everyday Life. Energy can be “produced,” “used,” or “released” by converting stored energy. Plants capture energy from sunlight, which can later be used as fuel or food.
ESS3.C Human Impact on Earth systems. Human activities have altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging it, although changes to environments can have different impacts for different living things. Activities and technologies can be engineered to reduce people’s impacts on Earth.
ESS3.D Global Climate Change. Human activities affect global warming. Decisions to reduce the impact of global warming depend on understanding climate science, engineering capabilities, and social dynamics.
LS2.B Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems. The atoms that make up the organisms in an ecosystem are cycled repeatedly between the living and nonliving parts of the ecosystem. Food webs model how matter and energy are transferred among producers, consumers, and decomposers as the three groups interact within an ecosystem.
PS3.D Energy in Chemical Process and Everyday Life. Sunlight is captured by plants and used in a reaction to produce sugar molecules, which can be reversed by burning those molecules to release energy
ESS3.C Human Impact on Earth systems. Sustainability of human societies and the biodiversity that supports them requires responsible management of natural resources, including the development of technologies that produce less pollution and waste and that preclude ecosystem degradation.
ESS3.D Global Climate Change. Global climate models used to predict changes continue to be improved, although discoveries about the global climate system are ongoing and continually needed.
LS2.B Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems. Photosynthesis and cellular respiration provide most of the energy for life processes. Only a fraction of matter consumed at the lower level of a food web is transferred up, resulting in fewer organisms at higher levels. At each link in an ecosystem elements are combined in different ways and matter and energy are conserved. Photosynthesis and cellular respiration are key components of the global carbon cycle.
PS3.D Energy in Chemical Process and Everyday Life. Photosynthesis is the primary biological means of capturing radiation from the sun; energy cannot be destroyed, it can be converted to less useful forms.
Notable FeaturesPermalink to Notable Features
- Seasonal variations in the level of CO2 over land
- Intense concentration of CO2 in the tropics due to biomass burning
- High levels of CO2 emitted from cities (best visible in January)
- Steady year-on-year increase of atmospheric CO2, as seen in the change in color according to the scale
Data SourcePermalink to Data Source
NOAA/ESRL GMD Carbon Cycle Greenhouse Gases group