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NASA Satellite Measures Earth's Carbon Metabolism

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the fat-burning-machine dept.

Space 141

Roland Piquepaille writes "To celebrate Earth Day, the NASA Earth Observatory recently revealed global measurements of the Earth's metabolism. 'Combining space-based measurements of a range of plant properties collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) with a suite of other satellite and surface-based measurements, NASA scientists produce composite maps of our world's 'net primary production' every 8 days. This new measurement is called net production because it indicates how much carbon dioxide is taken in by vegetation during photosynthesis minus how much is given off during respiration.' Check this column for a summary including the usefulness of such measurements. You'll also find maps showing the seasonal variation of Earth's net primary production."

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a lot of carbon (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5807434)

comes out of my ass

Re:a lot of carbon (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5807538)

a lot of carbon....

comes out of the this [goatse.cx] guy's ass!!

Fuck y'all (-1, Troll)

reelbk (213809) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807435)

All y'all. y'all don't know me... blo me

fp (-1, Offtopic)

the_bahua (411625) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807439)

First post, i guess

The Earth's not fat... (5, Funny)

gpinzone (531794) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807451)

It just has a low metabolism.

This is a job for.... (2, Funny)

ihatewinXP (638000) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807474)

Dr Atkins!

-Oh wait, he died last week... In our hour of need, no less.

Re:This is a job for.... (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807483)

But as the reaction which uses sunlight to remove carbon from carbon dioxide is generating sugar...this image only shows us carbohydrates.

Re:The Earth's not fat... (1)

Dausha (546002) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807498)

I always thought the problem with Earth was not fatness or low metabolism. I thought it was just big -boned.

It may be aneroxic though... (1, Funny)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807521)

Earth, this is crazy talk! You don't look anything like Saturn! Why must you always do this to yourself! I love you for who you are, not your equator diamater! I'm throwing these diet pills away right now!

Re:It may be aneroxic though... (0)

robsimmon (462689) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807856)

Don't you mean anaerobic?

Re:It may be aneroxic though... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5808065)

Anorexic = has anorexia (an eating disorder)
Anaerobic = no oxygen

Re:It may be aneroxic though... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5808116)

Anaerobic exercise leads to rapid weight loss.

Re:It may be aneroxic though... (1)

robsimmon (462689) | more than 11 years ago | (#5808317)

ok, maybe I should have added a ;)

Now show where carbon get produced! (5, Insightful)

Ja-Ja-Jamin (661760) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807454)

Show where it gets produced contrasted with where it gets consumed and show the rate of the difference. Combine that with charts showing how typical day to day activities contribute to either column. Now you'll have something that can help the average person make a difference! This is a good start!

Re:Now show where carbon get produced! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5807494)

Nah, most people will probably just leave it for someone else to take care of, like their children. I mean, making a difference takes effort, and Joe Public is too lazy to put in effort that doesn't directly benefit himself.

Re:Now show where carbon get produced! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5808069)

Leave it? Try most people won't even understand it!

not FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5807455)

This probably won't be the first post, so I'll read the article and then come back and post something on-topic, m'kay?

These kinds of studies... (5, Interesting)

Ratphace (667701) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807458)

...are really important IMHO. Studying the carbon dioxide levels of any system is important because with the talks about someday inhabiting other planets like Mars, one of our first objectives would be getting greenhouse gases into the planet's atmosphere and then waiting many years for the planet to warm up enough to be inhabitable, both from a temperature standpoint and melting the ice caps at the poles (speaking of Mars of course).

I am glad to see some useful studies being done. Once a planet warms up enough with green house gases, we can get some plant life on the planet to assist in the creation of oxygen through this same cycle and eventually make a planet liveable. Though it's not something we'll see in our lifetimes, studies such as these benefit the species as a whole in the long run (i.e. big picture of time).

Re:These kinds of studies... (3, Insightful)

sigep_ohio (115364) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807580)

I always thought that Mars lacked the gravity to hold a sufficient amount of greenhouse gases. I mean doesn't it have like 1/3 the gravity of earth, which means it wouldn't be able to hold the same amount of atmosphere. Additionally, it is farther from the sun, so it gets less light. That would mean it would need more greenhouse gases than earth does. Added together it means that Mars can't be terraformed like in the movies.

Maybe I am missing something, but thats how I figure it. I am certainly no expert in the field, so anyone no better?

Re:These kinds of studies... (4, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807697)

It seems to me that both the Earth and Mars are far below the limit of possible atmospheric density for their size. Consider Venus: slightly smaller than Earth, but it has a much, much denser atmosphere. If that kind of stuff scales linearly (and I don't have any idea of it does; I'm just guessing) then Mars would have no trouble holding on to an atmosphere as dense as Earth's.

I think I remember reading somewhere that the Moon -- with its surface gravity of 1/6 g -- could hold on to an Earth-density atmosphere for something like 10,000 years. Wish I could remember more.

Re:These kinds of studies... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5807725)

Keep in mind that 70% of Earth's greenhouse effect is from water vapor.

Even if Mars is leaking gases, it takes a long time. Maybe we'd have to keep vaporizing water ice in the atmosphere to keep replenishing it. There is a lot of ice out there, most visibly in comets and the rings of Saturn.

Re:These kinds of studies... (-1, Flamebait)

Acidic_Diarrhea (641390) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807585)

I read your post and I thought it was a good point. This type of research does make steps towards the colonization of other planets BUT...just as I was having joy joy feelings about the human race's pursuit of more knowledge and more understanding, I read the post beneath yours: "Suck my big black penis". Perhaps the human race should just stick to Earth and not befoul any other planets?

Re:These kinds of studies... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5807982)

Do you prefer to keep all our eggs in one basket, or to put some distance between yourself and the more stupid?

Re:These kinds of studies... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5808208)

Don't be silly. Terraforming is just a myth created by tree-huggers!

Sorry, my mistake! So long as we're talking about a different planet from Earth, then terraforming becomes a scientifically-sound concept.

10th post, assholes. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5807490)

Suck my big black penis.

Coniferous forests (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5807491)

I'm surprised that the coniferous forests in far north North America and Eurasia are more productive than the deciduous forests of more temperate climates. I'm wondering if the results of this are skewed because the temperate regions produce more carbon dioxide in the form of combustion emissions.

Re:Coniferous forests (1, Funny)

Angry White Guy (521337) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807513)

That means the fate of the world rests on Canada and our Popeye-looking head-of-state.

We're doomed.

Re:Coniferous forests (4, Insightful)

sigep_ohio (115364) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807528)

Well in June the earth's northern hemisphere is facing the sun, so norhtern plants are more productive. In December the Southern hemisphere is facing the sun, and so plants in the south are more productive. Meanwhile between the tropics light levels do not differ significantly throughout the year, so there is not much fluctuation in plant productivity.

atleast thats how I read the pictures.

Re:Coniferous forests (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5807638)

In Soviet Russia... carbon dioxide consumes PLANTS!

Re:Coniferous forests (1)

robsimmon (462689) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807680)

These measurements don't include carbon dioxide emitted from fires--it's just the amount of carbon living plants take in minus the amount they respire.

Re:Coniferous forests (4, Interesting)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807947)

Um.. That's relatively more productive. See how much more active the Amazon area is? Now, that blue ring southeast of it is not a desert, it is merely covered with trees and grass similar to what you'd imagine the Iowa farmland to be (yes, the color of Minas Gerais and Iowa are similar). The purple is less active, like the grasslands of Wyoming (indeed, the "northeast Brazil [terravista.pt] " area is known for its dry land and ranchers, as are the pampas further south).

The forests along the east coast of the USA include those on the minor mountains of the Appalatian range -- a difficult area to farm. Also in there are the Smoky Mountains, named because often there is a haze due to the volatile chemicals (terpenes) released by the forest there.

Re:Coniferous forests (3, Interesting)

Porag_Spliffing (66509) | more than 11 years ago | (#5808043)

The old rain forests are in equilibrium. Old trees die and rot (or burn) and only some carbon is fixed most is re-released and balanced out by the growth replacing the old trees.

The coniferous forests of the northern hemisphere are often actively logged so have much young vigourous carbon fixing growth with the carbon being cut down and dragged off to make paper/ikea furniture.

Re:Coniferous forests (2, Interesting)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 11 years ago | (#5808207)

Any area which is extracting more carbon than is emitted will build up soil. That's why the prairies of the US midwest had six feet of black dirt.

There are many reports that the layer of topsoil in the Amazon is thin, which indicates it either is in a delicate balance or, more likely, negative balance. Probably a lot of the carbon is being washed away, and the forest is living on the recently produced soil. The Amazon is consuming more carbon than it emits in the air, but is leaking carbon downstream.

As long as the soil replacement is keeping ahead of the erosion this will work. Note that "erosion" can include holes carved by floods, which are then filled in -- a marsh becomes a black dirt plain in a short geologic time. Erosion down toward sea level can continue as long as that thin layer of topsoil slows it down, else a desert or canyon appears. Upstream of the Amazon are mountain ranges which can keep providing minerals for quite a while.

I suppose harvesting forests and locking the carbon in paper and wooden furniture/walls is a form of erosion also...

Re:Coniferous forests (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 11 years ago | (#5808332)

It looks to me that some of those areas of high activity are around the Great Lakes, including southern Ontario. The area is mostly deciduous. It really highlights the importance preserving the Carolinian Rainforest. Most of it between here (Toronto) and Detroit has been cleared and just reduced to scattered disconnected pockets. Very sad. I know somebody with a cottage in Rondeau Park on Lake Erie - it's all Carolinian rainforest around there and it's fantastic to get in it and see all the vegetation and wildlife.

Re:Coniferous forests - some numbers (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5808521)

ecosystem type area npp
(10^12 m^2) (kg(C)/m^2/yr)
.tropical forests 24.5 0.83
temperate forests 12.0 0.56
boreal forests 12.0 0.36

woodland and shrubland 8.0 0.27
savanna 15.0 0.32
grassland 9.0 0.23
tundra and alpine meadow 8.0 0.065
desert scrub 18.0 0.032
rock, ice, and sand 24.0 0.015
cultivated land 14.0 0.29
swamp and marsh 2.0 1.13
lake and stream 2.5 0.23
open ocean 332.0 0.057
upwelling zones 0.4 0.23
continental shelf 26.6 0.16
algal bed and reef 0.6 0.90
estuaries 1.4 0.81

From Harte's "Consider a Spherical Cow" pg257 via
Earth's surface as a 20 x 25 Megameter rectangle
http://www.vendian.org/envelope/dir2/fl at_earth.html

Note the npp units. kgC/_square_meter_/yr.
Not per square kilometer.
That would make leaf raking sooo much easier... :)

And sorted by npp...
kgC/m^2/yr Mm^2
swamp and marsh 1.13 3.6
algal bed and reef 0.90 2.9
tropical forests 0.83 2.6
estuaries 0.81 2.6
temperate forests 0.56 1.8
boreal forests 0.36 1.1
savanna 0.32 1.0
cultivated land 0.29 0.92
woodland and shurbland 0.27 0.86
grassland 0.23 0.73
lake and stream 0.23 0.73
upwelling zones 0.23 0.73
continental shelf 0.16 0.51
tundra and alpine meadow 0.065 0.21
open ocean 0.057 0.18
desert scrub 0.032 0.10
rock, ice, and sand 0.015 0.048

Interesting (5, Interesting)

Musashi Miyamoto (662091) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807509)

If I understand the pictures correctly, it's amazing to see how much carbon is converted in the northern hemisphere... in Canada and Russia. It counters the conventional wisdom of the Amazon as being the primary oxygen producing region.

It will make me doubt all those "save the rain forest" tree-huggers.

I wonder if they could do the same thing to show the amount of carbon being produced.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5807577)

No you obviously don't understand the pictures correctly and neither does the ac above. The red and yellow areas are the big producers (2-3 kgC/km2/year) and the blue and purple are the low areas (1 kgC/km2/year).

The yellow and red is primarily in Sth America and other equitorial locations while blue and red makes up most of Canada and Russia. Pretty simple to see really.

Re:Interesting (1)

sigep_ohio (115364) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807591)

I think both posters were refering to the last two pics in the article. They show seasonal differences of the globes productivity.

Re:Interesting (4, Insightful)

edgrale (216858) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807588)

Please note that the amazon rain forest is producing oxygen all year long, even when the northern hemisphere has winter. And when the amazon is producing less it is "winter" over there.

Unlike the northern hemisphere, the amazon produces oxygen even when it is "cooler" there. To quote the article, you did read it and not just look at the pictures?

"However, tropical forests are more productive over a full year because of their longer growing season."

Re:Interesting (1)

sigep_ohio (115364) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807608)

What you mean these articles are hear for me to read? I thought this was like the playboy magazine; the articles are filler, the real meat is in the pictures.

Re:Interesting (1)

sigep_ohio (115364) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807650)

I sure am a product of the american education system. I couldn't even see that I wrote 'hear' instead of the correct form 'here'. Sorry about that.

Re:Interesting (4, Insightful)

Catskul (323619) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807631)

Well there is alot of importance to the rainforests besides their carbon consumption. I think one of the real resources is the bio-diversity.

If (notice the emphasis) the carbon consumpton of the rainforests is, as it seems in these diagrams, not as significant as many have been lead to believe, then it has been irresponsible for those who are trying to protect this resource to over emphasize some particular data just because they believe they can get more attention that way. It seems to happen in every aspect of politics though. The use of half-truths is a powerfull political weapon that many cant resist using.

Re:Interesting (2, Informative)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 11 years ago | (#5808268)

Look at the code key under the images again. Yellow and red are the most productive. The Amazon is consuming carbon dioxide at a faster rate than Florida.

However, this only shows there are a lot of plants hard at work on the atmosphere there. It does not show what is happening to the carbon in dead trees, soil, mud flowing down the river, carbon entering from the mountains upstream...

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5808272)

nope... according to the article, the rainforests still remove the most carbon dioxide. The northern areas are more active for a short summer, and essentially do nothing the rest of the year. The June reading happened to take place right at the peak of the summer for the nothern hemisphere. Rainforsts keep up a high level of activity throughout the entire year...

I agree with your comments about politics in general, but i don't think it applies here.

Re:Interesting (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5807636)

It will make me doubt all those "save the rain forest" tree-huggers.

Sorry to rant a bit, but the above statement is a cop-out.

Did it ever dawn on you that maybe they want to save the rain forest for more important reasons than that it producing oxygen? Or maybe just because it's the right thing to do? Considering what they're up against, it's no wonder they try and use lesser points to convince the selfish-minded to use moderation.

Re:Interesting (1)

cybercuzco (100904) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807754)

Right, butif you run the movie, youll notice the northern hemisphere is only producing the same as the rainforest for half a year. So net for the whole year, the rainforest abssorbs about twice as much as the northern hemisphere forests do.

Re:Interesting (1)

GraZZ (9716) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807797)

If you look at the net-primary productivity image on the NASA site, it's obvious that the Amazon region (as well as areas of the Phillipines) ARE in deed the most productive areas.

Canada and Russia still end up absorbing CO2 on a yearly basis in this average, but the Amazon is about twice as productive per unit area.

Re:Interesting (5, Informative)

robsimmon (462689) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807824)

Actually the Amazon takes up 10% of the carbon absorbed by the Earth's land surface with only 5% of the land area--so it's a major source of oxygen. But the Amazon's a pretty complicated place--these maps only show part of what's going on there. Read (shameless plug, but then again the original story is from my site, too) Escape from the Amazon [nasa.gov] for a few details on the other half of the process.

Re:Interesting (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 11 years ago | (#5808341)

Hey, great site. Shows nicely how some pieces of the Amazon carbon budget were matched. I like the right-angle radar reflector, too. I hope more pieces are gathered soon.

NASA measures Webchat's USER Metabolism (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5807515)

NASA scientists unveiled the first consistent and continuous global measurements of Webchat's "user metabolism."

Data from the kc and Thunderwoman satellites are helping scientists frequently update maps of the rate at which luser life on Webchat is absorbing abuse and /kill's out of the admins of webchat.

The rate of luser asphyxiation through ScattKsynthesis is a basic property of life on Webchat of ORG. It is the basis for capturing and storing the energy that fuels their ever growing need for assholish domination. The words they type are a byproduct of this ScattKsynthesis. According to its creators, they are ROOTs and most not listen nor help any luser at anytime without first asking them to perform felatio or in kc's case cunnilingus.

These new net primary productivity maps provide a fascinating new insight into the iron fist connection between the living world and the mental hell that is Webchat of ORG.

moron taking the plaNET's pulse/pressure (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5807523)

lookout bullow. don't buy it when you're tolled that there's no way to be wrong, buy your birthright.

'looks' like the scurvIE bastards 'may' be on the run. many are saying that hangin's too good for the Godless greed/fear/deception based larcenious fuddites from upon the pacific crest annex of capitollist hill. good job J., voting with your wallet, that is.

don't forget to consult yOUR creator, early & often, when making decisions of the heart/mind/wallet.

Re:moron taking the plaNET's pulse/pressure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5807550)

[me@home me] $ cat heart/mind/wallet
cat: heart/mind/wallet: No such file or directory


finding the path/statement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5807600)

it all begins with the /spirit. there used to be a /. spirit, but that's been replaced buy hired goons.

if you don't have an account yet, everything will be more difficult/unreal/fruitless.

Lazy Oceans (1, Funny)

rf0 (159958) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807537)

Just sitting there doing nothing? I mean what have they ever done for us :)


Re:Lazy Oceans (0)

studious jew (642926) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807545)

AFAIK, plankton and other small sea-creatures produce something like 75% of the world's oxygen.

Re:Lazy Oceans (1)

stilwebm (129567) | more than 11 years ago | (#5808096)

It's not that I doubt you, but do you know of any sources on this matter? I know people have devised plans to get "carbon credits" or just help increase biomass and thus carbon storage by creating huge colonies of plankton in the ocean. The idea is that they will be relatively harmless, die and fall to the bottom of the ocean and get buried in sediments.

Re:Lazy Oceans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5807635)

It may not be doing much but there is a lot of it which more than makes up for it.

Re:Lazy Oceans (0)

cybercuzco (100904) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807770)

Just like your mom!

Re:Lazy Oceans (1)

a_timid_mouse (607237) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807795)

Not very lazy at all according to the article: "When you average the productivity rates over the whole world, the ocean is roughly equal to the land." - Wayne Esaias, biological oceanographer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Re:Lazy Oceans (2, Interesting)

matt_morgan (220418) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807916)

The Oceans are probably a buffered carbon dioxide sink. A LOT of climate research goes into the topic of how much CO2 they contain, and how much more they might contain.

For example, CO2 appears not to be increasing in the atmosphere as fast as it should be, given increased emissions. One likely carbon sink may be forests--that is, maybe production in forests increases when CO2 availability increases. However, many people doubt that forests are CO2-limited in terms of their growth. More likely, there's more than enough CO2 to go around and trees don't grow more than they do because they're limited by some other necessary ingredient (phosphorous, nitrogen, micro-nutrients, etc.). Of course, it's possible that forests are expanding--it's probably not the case, but it's conceivable given that large, previously cleared areas (the suburban northeast of the US) are growing more trees back.

The Oceans also may be absorbing CO2. One great environmental fear is that there is a limit to this absorption. Remember how buffered solutions worked in Chemistry 1? The ph goes down really slowly as you add acid, until the buffering is overwhelmed and then wham!, the ph increases rapidly with additional acid. Same thing with CO2 buffering in the Oceans, only we don't know when the buffering may be overwhelmed. If that happens, global warming rates should dramatically increase over what we see today.

Wally Broecker from Lamont-Dougherty Earth Observatory [columbia.edu] used to do a lot of work on this. I don't know if he still does, or who else might be doing it now.

Re:Lazy Oceans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5808386)

You forgot that the oceans also contain the huge carbon sink: the ocean floor. A lot of carbon gets lost there until it is subducted into the mantle -- we just don't know how much ends up down there. Some fraction of the 0.2% of the magma which is carbon comes from the ocean floor, but we don't know how much.

Competition . . . (0, Offtopic)

Dausha (546002) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807540)

"As you can see, there is a lot of activity in the oceans."

You see, this is the kind of scientist we need. A scientist who isn't afraid to praise performance and give credit where it is due. However, we also need a motivational scientist. You know, the sort who will show these findings to trees and grass and ask them:

"why aren't you working harder? Look at the oceans, they're doing their part . . . and they're not even green! You make me sick. Look at December 2002 . . . look at it! You guys weren't doing crap. What was that? Hi-ber-na-tion? What load of bull are you trying to pull? Do you think you've earned a four-month vacation? 'In your genes?''Can't be helped?' I-don't-think-so Mr. Oak. Now, drop and give me 20 while I go find a gene therapist to make you an evergreen.

Re:Competition . . . (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5807676)

No way is this 'Offtopic'. Dry humor maybe, but not 'Offtopic'.

Re:Competition . . . (1)

Dausha (546002) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807779)

Yeah, I think somebody had mod points to burn and just downgraded me to burn them. I had posted my comment and by the time I could get back to the story thread to view my own article it had been down-modded.

Thanks for your support.

We Rule (0, Funny)

dangermurphy (446628) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807546)

Looks like the northern hemisphere is kicking the southern hemisphere's ass! Northern hemisphere rules!

Yeah, but... (1)

sean.peters (568334) | more than 11 years ago | (#5808197)

The NH has a lot more land area. They should be in a different conference.


Carbon Budget (2, Insightful)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807558)

That's a nice picture of plant activity. Now if the carbon budget could get balanced, so we know how much carbon is going where... and NASA may have a little difficulty measuring how much is landing on the ocean bottom.

Oh, why does it matter? If more carbon is being removed by the carbon cycle than is being released -- we'll run out of carbon dioxide. No plant respiration. No oxygen production.

Re:Carbon Budget (1)

robsimmon (462689) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807790)

But there would be lots of happy bacteria munching on all those dead plans, turning them back into carbon dioxide. The Earth's biosphere (in the long term) stabilizes the global climate.

Re:Carbon Budget (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5807839)

Considering that the CO2 content of the atmosphere has been rising considerably over the last 100 years and is continuing to do so, I don't think you have anthing to worry about.

I don't entirely buy this... (1, Insightful)

kevlar (13509) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807559)

I'm not trying to be critical here, but I do not completely believe this data. Its given to us in an incredibly misleading way. They are essentially telling us that every square foot of the planet produces more CO2 than O2 which is simply not possible. There's no mapping of negative production, so it looks like we're spiralling out of control.

Re:I don't entirely buy this... (1)

NorthDude (560769) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807578)

it looks like we're spiralling out of control

Were you still doubting it?

Re:I don't entirely buy this... (1)

kevlar (13509) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807733)

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NPP/Imag es/psn.modis.200212.900x450.jpg

In December there is 0 kgC/km^2 generated in the US?

There's something I think a lot of people are missing here. This map is showing the Carbon produced when it is stripped away from an Oxygen molecule. It does not reflect the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere at a given time. This is the reason why the Hemisphere that is in Summer is so colorful and explains the reason why the Ocean is purple... because its constantly converting CO2 to C and O2.

Re:I don't entirely buy this... (2, Informative)

enronman (664750) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807597)

Fosil fuels. They produce CO2 and are why the numbers don't "balance".

Re:I don't entirely buy this... (1)

kevlar (13509) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807698)

Yes, but according to the map, every piece of land including bumble-fuck Canada and South America are producing CO2. Even over the ocean according to this map there is C02 production, even though the absorption is greater b/c there is no production.

Re:I don't entirely buy this... (1)

enronman (664750) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807734)

Plants produce CO2 when the consume the products of their photosynthesis, at night and some times of day they will be NET producers of CO2. That is one part of why you see CO2 produced everywhere.... to say nothing of insects, animals, bacteria ect.

Re:I don't entirely buy this... (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807793)

Everything that needs oxygen to live produces CO2.

(Some bacteria produce eg methane instead of CO2, but then that's a lot more effective greenhouse gas per molecule than CO2.)

Re:I don't entirely buy this... (1)

robsimmon (462689) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807755)

These data are merely a measure of the "carbon fixing" of vegetation: the amount of carbon from the atmosphere used by plants to make bigger plants. The alogorithm is based on the photosynthesis activity of plants. It doesn't include the carbon released back into the atmosphere after a fire, or the carbon dioxide emitted from rotting vegetation (I'm almost positive about the second one, but haven't been able to get in touch with the principal investigator). We (the scientific community & NASA) are still working on figure out carbon sources.

Re:I don't entirely buy this... (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 11 years ago | (#5808072)

This is measuring "productivity" -- how much CO2 is being altered to O2 while the plants produce sugars. Only living carbon sinks are shown, so the geologic sinks which remove carbon for a long time (ocean floor) are not shown. The carbon sources also are not shown, so it is not showing when a tree rots in a wet forest and releases methane and soil (there are other satellite images [nasa.gov] which do show vegetation fire patterns).

Global Warming? (0, Offtopic)

petronivs (633683) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807574)

I'm really surprised no one's started a serious global warming flame. really.

Re:Global Warming? (-1, Offtopic)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807750)

Oh, it'll happen soon enough. Someone will come along to tell us that global warming is a liberal commie tree-hugger myth. With luck, they'll also rant about how this study is an absurd waste of money that could better go to tax cuts for CEO's and bombing the shit out of little brown people.

Come on, Slashdot righties! Don't disappoint me!

Re:Global Warming? (0, Offtopic)

petronivs (633683) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807846)

Someone will come along to tell us that global warming is a liberal commie tree-hugger myth. With luck, they'll also rant about how this study is an absurd waste of money that could better go to tax cuts for CEO's and bombing the shit out of little brown people.

On the other hand, someone will come along to tell us that not near enough attention is being paid to global warming and to worldwide ecosystems, and that this study somehow proves it.
Then they'll start ranting that this study is a blatant capitalist plug to try to defenestrate global warming.

Re:Global Warming? (1)

Troed (102527) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807924)

Global warming _caused by humans_ is a myth, yes. I thought that was common knowledge among people who know the earth is older than 50 years?

Last I checked, the dinosaurs didn't drive SUVs - yet they had a whopping 10 degree celcius higher mean temperature.

Re:Global Warming? (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 11 years ago | (#5808450)

It's got all to do with entire ecosphere equilibrium. And at least I don't particularily want to live in a time when that global equilibrium is in a state of change. Just imagine if the most densely populated area of US East Coast became a hurricane area, with regular hurricanes sweeping over the big cities. My personal fear (living in North Europe) is that Golf Stream turns south, and our now moderately temperate climate changes into something like Greenland. It might be ok in a 100-year time span when a new equilibrium is reached, but that doesn't help me personally...

And then there's of course the bogey-man called something like "run-off global warming". What if there isn't anything that will stop the global warming, that instead the increase in temperature will result in bigger release of greenhouse gasses (say, from the melting swamps at Arctic tundra, or bottom of the ocean because of warmer sea water)? Sun is now sligtly hotter than it was at the time of dinosaurs I believe (and slowly getting hotter as it gets older). There can be more CO2 deposits in the ground and in the oceans now than back then etc.

So even if 10 degrees higher temperature was ok a few hundred million years ago, I'd rather not take my chances on it being ok under current conditions. The chance of turning Earth into Venus may be tiny, but it's also pretty final if it happens...

Re:Global Warming? (1)

Troed (102527) | more than 11 years ago | (#5808509)

I agree with everything you say - except that I'm of the position that we don't know what do to :) The things we're doing to "stop" global warming are maybe doing just the opposite - we simply don't know how the Earth copes with the issue. Maybe it _needs_ elevated CO2 levels?

I also live in Northern Europe - although the plan is to move to New Zealand :)

Ummm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5807602)

So is the Red Good or Bad in this map. I am verry confused. They explain how much carbon is being used by the ocians but that is relively low compared to the land. Wow my head hurts.

Re:Ummm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5807633)

I like how the same color represents each end of the spectrum.

Re:Ummm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5807659)

Red = good. The oceans do not produce much per unit area, but since they are so large, the net production is the same as that of the rainforests, which are much smaller but have a higher biomass concentration.

The Oceans (4, Interesting)

jolyonr (560227) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807623)

It's quite interesting to see how much carbon is being soaked up by the oceans. Much of this carbon eventually ends up as deposits on the sea floor and, after millions of years, limestone. It may be a lower amount of carbon intake than the forests, but then forest fires and biological action on dead trees can eventually release a percentage of the carbon that's trapped by trees.

Mt. Everest. (1)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807902)

THere wa san artile a while ago, about how Mt. everest and the mountains around it changed the climate. Basically, sicne its bare rock and limestone, unlike most smaller mountains which have tress, and grass, it basically soaks co2 out of the air by reactin with the carbonic acid in the rain and neutralisning it, and the neutral salts get washed into the ocean where they settle out. WHat i just said may be completely technically wrong, i am not a chemist, but thats more or less the mechanism, new big assed bare rock, acidy rain, co2 goes down.

North performance.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5807690)

Somewhere.. sometime.. i read that the corn fields in southern Ontario Canada produce enough oxygen in their 5 month growing period to aspirate every single canadian for an entire year.. mind you there is only 5 of us up here.. and yes i did know bob that works in accounting.. he's dead..

This whole koyoto accord thing has got this blown way out of proportion though.. plants need co2.. they thrive in a co2 rich environment.. my car is just helping plants live a better life.

Now you know where to plant trees. (1)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807837)

Look at those black spots in the ocean! Wouldn't it be great to put some floating islands there and plant lots and lots of trees. And bring up cold water from the deeper layers so that plankton could start growing and feed the fish and the whales. Impossible? Oh well; it was a nice dream.

For more MODIS information . . . (1)

a_timid_mouse (607237) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807871)

. . . check out the following links:

MODIS Web [nasa.gov] MODIS and MODIS links [nasa.gov]

Scale (0)

gwhulbert (534218) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807893)

The scale on these diagrams is kg of carbon per square kilometre per year. The values are up to about 3. This seems completely bogus. Think about how much mass a aquare kilometre of trees must gain in one year. It's not all water ...

Re:Scale (1)

sean.peters (568334) | more than 11 years ago | (#5808245)

No, it's not all water. But it's not all water & carbon either. Some of it is nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, oxygen, calcium, etc, etc...

The mineral components of plant material make up a significant part of its mass.


Re:Scale (1)

robsimmon (462689) | more than 11 years ago | (#5808353)

That's because I'm an idiot and a labelled the scales wrong. Think kg per square meter, not square km. I guess I should go fix it now, huh?

What happens when all the carbon is gone? (2, Funny)

Hao Wu (652581) | more than 11 years ago | (#5807914)

Do we start burning bed rock instead? What about geotherms from the earth's magma. Why can't we use it (they do in Iceland) as a carbon substitute.

Re:What happens when all the carbon is gone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5808222)

lol... mod parent down... -1 stupidity

In celebration of earth day (1)

JDizzy (85499) | more than 11 years ago | (#5808093)

I think I'll go take a shit in the woods, and go piss on a tree. One less "WHOOSH..." down the toilet. Hey, it saves water, and that water could be donated to some squirel or a starving person in Ethiopia or some other equally tree huging manuever! Happy Earth day slashdot!

what happened to belching bovines? (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 11 years ago | (#5808225)

There were times when eco-nuts blamed burping cows for excess carbon in the form burping and farting methane. This would probably show up as carbon excess in the west US and sourthern south america, if this hypothesis is true. Looks of cows and few trees in those regions.

No - graphics are mislabeled; some npp numbers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5808289)

Come on folks. Most of vegitation dry weight is carbon. If it took a square kilometer to fix a kilogram of carbon each year... well, leaf raking would be sooo much easier. The units should probably be kgC per square meter per year. But what's a 6 order of magnitude error between friends. Got to love NASA PR.

Earth's surface as a 20 x 25 Megameter rectangle [vendian.org] has some old npp numbers from John Harte's "Consider a Spherical Cow". (I would have inlined them here, but I can't seem to do a PRE tag...) Google would no doubt turn up other sources.

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