2011-06-07 02:15:39NASA - Earth Observatory - mixing the concepts ?
Svatli

svatli@gmail...
217.28.182.1

I would like to get a little help on this one.

It was drawn to my attention that there is a gap between what SkS says about CO2 emission, see here ("CO2 in the atmosphere is rising by only 15 gigatonnes per year"), and the NASA Earth Observatory says here ("Human activities add about 5.5 billion tons per year of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere" - caption for the second figure). In the main text on NASA's Earth Observatory website they talk about 5,5 GtC, but below the figure they use carbon dioxide. What I want to know, isn't NASA mixing up the concepts. Isn't the caption below the figure just plain wrong, it should say 5,5 GtC or another higher number for how much CO2 is being add to the atmosphere every year?

Or maybe I'm just misunderstanding the concepts..?

2011-06-07 02:35:08
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

It should say 5.5 billion tons of carbon, which is about 20 Gt of CO2.  That sounds a bit high to me though.  I think our figure of 15 Gt of CO2 is more accurate (roughly 50% of our 30 Gt of CO2 emissions end up in the atmosphere).

2011-06-07 02:39:19
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

No, I think you are right (that they are wrong).  The graphic is talking about storage and flux in carbon, in gigatonnes - the human flux says 5.5 GtC, which translates to about 20.17 GtCO2.

Contrary to what Dana says though, if this is net flux from a source, then I personally think 20 GtCO2 is too low - we emit roughly 30 GtCO2 a year, and while half of that does get absorbed, that would be accounted for not in the human flux number, but in the ocean flux number.

Well, "would," "should."

The graphic is also likely out of date too.  Does anyone have a date for it?

2011-06-07 02:47:47
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

Ah but Alex, the two captions are amount "added to the atmosphere".  That's around 15 Gt CO2.

2011-06-07 07:39:44
Svatli

svatli@gmail...
157.157.219.81

I'm going to send those who are responsible for the website a comment about this. The individual who pointed this out for me, is one of the biggest denier I've met in the debate of climate change in Iceland. He took this as a sign of the big lie and how much "we" really don't know about CO2 emissions and therefore climate science as whole... Well known "argumentation" amongst deniers, that "we don't know all things and therefore it's all a big lie" - well nothing new there, but such a failure on a NASA based website isn't a good sign.

2011-06-07 08:23:32
Svatli

svatli@gmail...
157.157.219.81

I have made the comment and got response:

---

Sveinn --

We are actually finalizing an new carbon cycle fact sheet this month, so I will make sure the error does not get translated to the new story.  Thanks for pointing that out.

---

Well, now I've just have to follow up on this and find out of this will be all right in the new edition. But they were quick in responding - I think it was about 15 minutes from my comment until the answer came in e-mail :)

2011-06-07 08:45:59
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

Cool, nice to get a good response there, Svatli.  Good catch.

2011-06-07 09:08:01
Hoskibui

hoskibui@gmail...
157.157.186.212

Well done -  I always get confused when amounts of carbon or carbon dioxide :)