NASA Goddard released this video on November 17, 2014. It’s based on an ultra-high-resolution NASA computer model showing how carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere – a greenhouse gas – travels around the globe.
Notice how winds disperse the CO2 away from its sources. And notice the differences in carbon dioxide levels in the northern and southern hemispheres … and the swings in global carbon dioxide concentrations as the growth cycle of plants and trees changes with the seasons.
A computer model called GEOS-5 – created by scientists at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Global Modeling and Assimilation Office – produced this carbon dioxide visualization. It’s a product of a simulation called a Nature Run. The Nature Run ingests real data on atmospheric conditions and the emission of greenhouse gases and both natural and man-made particulates. The model is then left to run on its own and simulate the natural behavior of the Earth’s atmosphere. This Nature Run simulates January 2006 through December 2006.
While Goddard scientists worked with a beta version of the Nature Run internally for several years, they released this updated, improved version to the scientific community for the first time in the fall of 2014, along with this video of carbon dioxide’s yearly travels through the atmosphere.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.