Earth  ID: 3764

How Much Carbon do Plants Take from the Atmosphere?

Plant life converts atmospheric carbon dioxide into biomass through photosynthesis, a process called 'fixing'. This is one of the main ways in which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and is a major part of the carbon cycle. The amount of carbon removed is called the gross primary productivity (GPP), and the change in GPP due to rising global temperatures is very important factor in the response of the Earth to climate change.

Data from the MODIS instrument on NASA's Terra satellite has been recently used to calculate the GPP for the whole world for the last 10 years. This animation shows a time sequence of GPP on land as measured by MODIS during the years 2000 through 2009. Two things to note are the year-long productivity of the tropical regions and the large seasonal productivity in the northern hemisphere. A close look at the animation also reveals major urban areas for which the productivity is negligible.

For a look at why the decade from 2000 through 2009 meant lower productivity, see the page 'How has the Atmospheric Carbon Uptake from Plants Changed in the Last Decade?'



Visualization Credits

Horace Mitchell (NASA/GSFC): Lead Animator
Michelle Williams (UMBC): Producer
Maosheng Zhao (University of Montana): Scientist
Steven W Running (University of Montana): Scientist
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Data was provided by Maosheng Zhao.

Science Paper:
Zhao, M. and S. W. Running, 2010, Drought-induced reduction in global terrestrial net primary production from 2000 through 2009. Science, 329: 940-943.

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Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM)

Data Used:
GTOPO30 Topography and Bathymetry
Data Compilation - USGS
Terra/MODIS/FPAR/LAI also referred to as: Leaf Area Index
1/1/2000 - 12/31/2009
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

DLESE >> Biology
DLESE >> Ecology
DLESE >> Physical geography
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Biosphere >> Ecological Dynamics >> Photosynthesis
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Biosphere >> Vegetation >> Leaf Characteristics
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Climate Indicators >> Drought Indices >> Palmer Drought Severity Index
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Land Surface >> Land Use/Land Cover >> Land Productivity
SVS >> Hyperwall
NASA Science >> Earth
SVS >> Presentation

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version