Record rise in Carbon dioxide level caused by 2015-16 El Nino

El Nino has contributed to higher Carbon Dioxide levels

The findings in the journal Science are based on data from a carbon-tracking satellite launched in 2014 by the U.S. space agency, known as NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2).

In this issue, a collection of Research Articles presents the initial results from OCO-2, covering the detection of Carbon dioxide emissions from specific point sources; measurements of Carbon dioxide variations associated with El Niño, on land and at sea; and solar-induced fluorescence measurements of photosynthesis for determining gross primary production by plants.

In Africa, hotter-than-normal temperatures led to faster decomposition of dead trees and plants, releasing more carbon into the atmosphere.

In recent year, a surge in the level of carbon dioxide has been witness the average annual increase has been closer to two parts per million of carbon dioxide per year - or four gigatonnes of carbon.

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A study published Thursday in the journal Science found that the super-sized El Nino a couple of years ago led to an increase of 2.5 billion tons of carbon into the air.

The findings suggest that, at least in some cases, higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide result from the interplay of natural conditions and human activity. Study co-author Annmarie Eldering, NASA's deputy project scientist for the satellite, said the new results show how El Nino can counteract efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Jonathan Overpeck, a University of MI scientist who was not part of the study, said the research revealed that the regional links between carbon dioxide and El Nino are more complex than previously thought, and raised concern about how the earth will respond to more future warming.

Liu and Eldering are among 16 authors of the Science study, "Contrasting Carbon Cycle Responses of the Tropical Continents to the 2015-2016 El Niño". With its impressive collection of observational capabilities, OCO-2 will enable measurements of atmospheric Carbon dioxide to be made with sufficient precision, resolution, and coverage to faithfully characterize its sources and sinks globally over the seasonal cycle, a long-standing goal in atmospheric and climate science.

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