From diagnosis to attribution: constraining carbon cycle dynamics using contemporary observations
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
Universities Space Research Association, Columbia, MD
Future climate predictions and societal responses to climate change require an in-depth understanding of carbon-climate feedbacks and changes to the carbon cycle. In turn, this understanding hinges on our ability to diagnose the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), their variability and future evolution. My research focuses on developing and implementing statistical and numerical methods that utilize advances in observational and modeling strategies to study the carbon cycle from global to regional domains and across a variety of space-time scales. In this talk, I will show two unique examples to illustrate how information from space-based sensors can be used to understand the response of the carbon cycle to natural and anthropogenic perturbations: first, we will look at how the global carbon cycle responded to the 2015-2016 El Niño event, and second, how short-term, regional changes in fossil fuel emissions during the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted the carbon cycle? I will highlight how insights gained from these applications are informing model and technological developments to make better use of information from current and future space-based missions. Finally, I will also discuss the potential (and the necessity) for a coordinated diverse observing portfolio, comprising of airborne, remote sensing and ground measurements, to obtain a deeper understanding of the changing carbon cycle and its co-evolution with atmospheric composition and climate.
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