April 16 (UPI) -- Scientists have published the first global CO2 maps compiled using data collected by China's TanSat.
The maps, published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, are powered by TanSat observations made between April and July 2017. Researchers expect the maps and related data to help scientists build more accurate climate models.
"Global warming is a major problem, for which carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas involved in heating the troposphere," Yang Dongxu, researcher with the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said in a news release. "However, the poor availability of global carbon dioxide measurements makes it difficult to estimate carbon dioxide emissions accurately."
TanSat, launched in December 2016, is China's first greenhouse gas-monitoring satellite, and it is the third space satellite to measure CO2 using hyperspectral imaging.
More than simply measuring CO2 concentrations in Earth's atmosphere, TanSat, sometimes called CarbonSat, is capable of locating carbon dioxide flux, the place on Earth's surface where carbon is either being absorbed or released. TanSat's observations can help scientists better understand Earth's many carbon cycles.
"TanSat can provide global carbon dioxide measurements, which will reduce the uncertainty of flux estimation and support studies on climate change," Yang said.
A combination of computer models and on-the-ground CO2 measurements helped scientists confirm the accuracy of TanSat's observations.
"Based on the maps, a seasonal decrease in carbon dioxide concentration from spring to summer in the Northern Hemisphere is obvious, and results from a change in the rate of photosynthesis," Yang said. "Emission hotspots due to anthropogenic activity, such as industrial activity and fossil fuel combustion, are clearly evident in eastern China, the eastern United States and Europe."