The science visualised: Where does carbon come from, and where does it go?

Climate Basics

NASA’s advanced computer models break down some of the complexity of atmospheric carbon dioxide: The visualisation disentangles the influences of sources and sinks and thereby helps us to better understand where carbon is coming from and going to.  

Original content from nasa.gov

This visualization shows the CO2 being added to Earth's atmosphere over the course of the year 2021, split into four major contributors: fossil fuels in orange, burning biomass in red, land ecosystems in green, and the ocean in blue. The dots on the surface also show how atmospheric carbon dioxide is also being absorbed by land ecosystems in green and the ocean in blue. Though the land and oceans are each carbon sinks in a global sense, individual locations can be sources at different times.

This view highlights Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. European fossil fuel emissions are visible as is red representing emissions from fires over central Africa that are used to clear crop residue. Fires represent a much smaller source of CO2 to the atmosphere than fossil fuel emissions, but are significant because they can alter the ability of an ecosystem to sequester carbon in the future. Scientists are carefully monitoring how CO2 emissions from fires are altered by climate change, which is bringing longer and more severe fire seasons to many areas.

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