June 15, 2015

New calculations to improve carbon dioxide monitoring from space

(June 15, 2015)  How light of different colours is absorbed by carbon dioxide (CO2) can now be accurately predicted using new calculations developed by a UCL-led team of scientists. This will help climate scientists studying Earth’s greenhouse gas emissions to better interpret data collected from satellites and ground stations measuring CO2.

By improving the understanding of how much radiation CO2 absorbs, uncertainties in modelling climate change will be reduced and more accurate predictions can be made about how much Earth is likely to warm over the next few decades.

Previous methods were only accurate to about 5% at best across all wavelengths, whereas the new calculations give an accuracy of 0.3%. This improvement will enable missions to achieve their goals, which demand an accuracy of 0.3-0.5% say the team of scientists.

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