Power plants pollute more than volcanoes: Study
Climate change isn't all that difficult to understand. A British scientist proved shortly before the American civil war that carbon dioxide absorbs heat, and a Swedish chemist doodled out the first equations involving fossilfuel emissions before the 20th century even began.
What was difficult to separate out, however, was identifying the humandriven signal within the noise of the vast, messy, and natural climate system.
A three-year-old NASA mission has given researchers a huge hand in tracking how CO2 pours out of industrial sources, in and out of land, seas, and the atmosphere. The net picture is a geologically abrupt flushing out, by burning and warming, of carbon that's been trapped underground for up to many millions of years.
The instruments on OCO-2 analyze the atmosphere from an altitude of about 440 miles.
Cities are responsible for more than 70 percent of humanity's CO2 emissions. The satellite, however, not only discerns pollution differences between cities and rural areas.
OCO-2 carbon-mapped the Yasur volcano in the island nation of Vanuatu, and discovered that, by comparison, power plants in many cases are larger sources of CO2 than passive volcanoes.