Satellite measurements and a supercomputer model combine hypnotically in NASA’s latest triumph: an unprecedentedly detailed look at how planet-warming carbon dioxide moves through the Earth’s atmosphere.
In the visualization, the greenhouse gas can be seen gliding down the sides of mountain ranges, rushing across adjacent plains, and swirling from sea level to more than 12 miles skyward. The fires that engulfed Indonesia in late 2015 throw off more than half a billion tons of carbon dioxide. And as CO2-absorbing forests grow in summer and go dormant in winter, the atmospheric concentration of the gas falls and rise over the Northern Hemisphere—as if the Earth itself were breathing. (See also: “The Earth Has Lungs. Watch Them Breathe.”)