This dataset shows the result of emitting carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning into the atmosphere over two years. A computer model of the atmosphere called TM5 was used to create this powerful visualization. TM5 simulates the movement of atmospheric gases globally, using winds and atmospheric mixing as derived from the global weather forecast. The model has been used for the main greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O), chemically active species such as ozone (O3), and various aerosols. Like CarbonTracker, a measurement and modeling system to keep track of carbon sources and sinks around the world, this dataset was developed by the Carbon Cycle Greenhouse Gases group at NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory. Unlike CarbonTracker, this simulation does not use information from actual observations and instead visualizes the transport of fossil fuel emissions. Visualizations such as this dataset and CarbonTracker, aim to improve our understanding of atmospheric carbon and how various sources and sinks may respond to the changing climate, increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 (via the CO2 fertilization effect), and human management of global resources.
This dataset shows how atmospheric CO2 concentration changes due to daily emissions of CO2 from the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas (fossil fuels) over a two-year time period (2011-2012). Emissions come from the ODIAC (Open-source Data Inventory for Anthropogenic CO2) and are based on economic data. The video begins with a map of the world with no fossil fuel CO2. As time progresses the viewer watches the global accumulation of CO2 emissions from all fossil fuel sources over two years. In each frame all fossil CO2 from the surface to the top of the atmosphere is shown. Large emitters such as Eastern Asia, Western Europe, and the North East of North America stand out. By the end of 2012, the entire Northern Hemisphere is red, illustrating a total accumulation of over 10 ppm of CO2.
Emissions produce a total global accumulation of 9.0 ppm of CO2 in the two years, which would be equal to a 2.3% increase of atmospheric CO2 (relative to a global average of 390.5 ppm during 2011 and 392.5 in 2012) from fossil fuel emissions every 2 years. Over a 10-year time period these emissions equate to 45 ppm of CO2 or an increase of 11.5%. If this amount could somehow be confined completely to a global layer of pure CO2 at the surface, it would be 36 cm, or 14" thick everywhere. The actual observed atmospheric CO2 increase is about half that, or 5.0% per decade because approximately half of the emissions do not remain in the atmosphere, but are absorbed by the oceans and terrestrial plants. Unlike CarbonTracker, this dataset portrays purely how fossil fuel generated CO2 is transported through the atmosphere, and does not account for the redistribution of CO2 into the terrestrial biosphere and oceans.
East Asia is visibly the largest CO2 emitter from fossil fuels during 2011-2012.
In 2011-2012, global average CO2 would have increased 2.3% from the burning of fossil fuels alone.
In ten years this 2.3% rate of increase would equate to an 11.5% increase in atmospheric CO2.
Mixing is rapid in the Northern Hemisphere, but there is a one-year time lag of CO2 emissions mixing into the Southern Hemisphere.
At the end of the movie, the worldwide distribution of red illustrates the global average increase of about 9 ppm of CO2 which results from fossil fuel burning in just two years, with the Northern Hemisphere leading the Southern Hemisphere.
This dataset does not take into account the transfer of CO2 into plants and the oceans.