Carbon and Climate

  • Released Tuesday, November 10th, 2015
  • Updated Tuesday, December 1st, 2015 at 12:00AM


As carbon dioxide levels in Earth's atmosphere have increased in recent decades, the planet's land and ocean have continued to absorb about half of manmade emissions. NASA’s Earth science program works to improve our understanding of how carbon absorption and emission processes work in nature. It also seeks to track how these processes might change in a warming world with increasing levels of carbon dioxide and methane emissions from human activities.

The volume of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere by human activities is the dominant force driving ongoing and future climate change. While NASA isn’t involved in policies around emissions levels, the agency’s scientists are targeting what can be called the "other half" of this carbon and climate equation – what will happen with the 50 percent of carbon dioxide emissions that are currently absorbed by the ocean, forests and other land ecosystems?

The twenty-first Conference of Parties (COP-21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will take place in Paris, France, November 30 to December 11, 2015. Each year, the COP meets for two weeks to discuss the state of Earth’s climate and how best to deal with future climate change. Hosted by the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Center at COP-21 is a major public outreach initiative to inform attendees about key climate initiatives and scientific research taking place in the U.S. As has been the standard for several years, NASA scientists will be present to show examples of our ongoing research.





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