Think Sky as a big bowl of blue soup. Its components include oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide, which scientists can accurately measure. But since the Industrial Revolution, people have been adding heaps of extra CO2 Burning fossil fuels has warmed the planet 1.2 degrees Celsius so far, complicating those calculations.
Although it is easy enough to know the total CO2 In that atmospheric soup, it is difficult to analyze how much humanity is adding at any given time. This is because the earth’s natural processes also produce gas, and because civilization has abundant sources for its own emissions, which increase or decrease within a few hours. It would be like throwing a dash of salt into a real soup and then trying to calculate exactly how many grains have entered. Later They hit the liquid.
All that atmospheric scientists can do is make a list, trying to fully calculate a “bottom to top” skybound CO.2 As it is produced on earth. For example, they can add how much gasoline is being burned at a given time and how many fossil fuel power plants are running to calculate how much carbon is being emitted into the atmosphere. Although completely accurate, it takes time to create all these inventories, mainly because some data enters at a slower pace. And timeliness is important when taking action on climate change, because we need to identify the source of CO.2 And get rid of them as soon as possible, for example, by replacing coal with renewable ones, electric cars with petrol cars and gas furnaces with heat pumps.
You might be wondering why researchers could not adopt more “top-down” methods to train satellites and measure CO on planetary spots.2 Coming off them. This has been attempted in some parts of the world, for example when a NASA satellite took readings on the Los Angeles Basin. But there are some problems: the air is mixed, and it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where the emissions come from. Another is that it can be difficult to sort out human emissions from CO2 Caused by the Earth’s natural carbon cycle. When plants synthesize photosynthesis, they absorb carbon and trap it in their tissues, releasing oxygen. When they die and rot, that carbon is released again.
But now the Covid-19 epidemic, oddly enough, has given scientists a good top-down tool for predicting minute changes in fossil fuel emissions. A team of researchers tested the air separately for carbon dioxide and oxygen using the UK’s coastal Webborn Atmospheric Observatory, then added the measurements together. They then used a technique called atmospheric potential oxygen, or APO, to calculate the imbalance between oxygen and CO.2 From fossil fuel emissions.
The key to distinguishing between natural and man-made emissions is the ratio between CO2 And oxygen. Plants process both in a one-to-one ratio: they absorb the same amount of carbon dioxide as they emit oxygen, so the aggregates discard each other. On the other hand, burning fossil fuels consumes more oxygen than CO produces2.