Ask me (almost) anything, December 2021

Dec 20, 2021

Trying to understand the distribution of CO2 better, and knowing how to counter one’s CO2 footprint, Mark was recently asked:
“Is CO2 evenly distributed around the world?”

Mark’s answer: The short answer is “no”.

There is no fixed answer as with all science. This is a dynamic situation that varies with the seasons each year. However, there are some general trends:

1. According to NASA data (2013) atmospheric carbon concentrations vary across the globe by about 2.5% – from 390ppm to 402ppm at that date 2013.

2. See this picture:

The upper level is now 416 (2021). The CO2 is measured in the troposphere at 10-20kms above surface. The dividing line is the equator as the winds tends not to cross this line.
Image source here.

3. Concentrations vary with latitude. Higher concentrations are in the Northern hemisphere where most of the CO2 sources occur. But, also where the tropics over land are warmer. This image above was taken in May 2021.

4. Concentrations vary according to altitude, due to pressure and temperature. At a surface with warmer air, CO2 concentrations are higher. At higher altitudes, CO2 concentrations are less.

5. HOWEVER, the ‘take home message’ is that that the small difference in ambient CO2 concentration has a very small influence on the result. The main influence is the type of plant and season. For example, Sydney, Australia is in mid-latitude (warm temperate, with spring, summer rain, and high temperature). The growth rate in plants is higher and the capture of CO2 is higher compared to colder months.

Thank you for sharing your insights, Mark! This gives us a better understanding of how CO2 is distributed.

Next month, Mark answers the question: Do trees / plants store the same amounts of CO2, regardless of where they are on the globe?

Stay tuned to our blog to learn more about our trees and our planet!

1 Comment

  1. Anrich Bester

    Thank you for educating us, Mark.

    This helped me to understand the distribution of CO2 around the globe.


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