Scientists stunned by huge discovery above Earth

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Scientists stunned by huge discovery above Earth

A worry new report indicates that tropical forests are dumping carbon dioxide, based on observations from a NASA satellite.

A NASA satellite that maps out carbon dioxide around the globe has recorded a huge spike in the amount of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, the largest increase in the last 2,000 years. And now, scientists think they’ve pinpointed the cause.

Three major tropical forest regions around the world appear to be the culprits behind the spike based on observations of NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2), one of several satellites charged with collecting green house gas emissions.

The findings were presented at an Oct. 12 teleconference, and they provide scientists with a “revolutionary” new way to understand how droughts and heat in tropical rainforests affect the rest of the globe. Because these regions are so remote, they often lack the field stations to monitor them and thunderstorms also distort land-based measurements, making these satellites game-changers.

“A new NASA study provides space-based evidence that Earth’s tropical regions were the cause of the largest annual increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration seen in at least 2,000 years,” the NASA statement reads. “Scientists suspected the 2015-16 El Nino — one of the largest on record — was responsible, but exactly how has been a subject of ongoing research. Analyzing the first 28 months of data from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite, researchers conclude impacts of El Nino-related heat and drought occurring in tropical regions of South America, Africa and Indonesia were responsible for the record spike in global carbon dioxide. The findings are published in the journal Science Friday as part of a collection of five research papers based on OCO-2 data.”

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