Watching the Earth breathe

[2012-07-31] biology, scitech
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The Earth breathes: When vegetation grows, carbon dioxide is consumed and oxygen is produced. That is, carbon dioxide breathed in (obviously, we breathe oxygen in). That process is reversed when plants lose leaves and they decompose or are eaten by animals. The NASA Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio has created an animation that visualizes the breathing by showing both the cycle of vegetation and the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere:

This animation was created with data taken from two NASA spaceborne instruments. The concentration of carbon dioxide data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS), a weather and climate instrument that flies aboard NASA's Aqua spacecraft, is overlain on measurements of vegetation index from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument, also on NASA's Aqua spacecraft, to better understand how photosynthesis and respiration influences the atmospheric carbon dioxide cycle over the globe.
Source: “Watching the Earth Breathe: An Animation of Seasonal Vegetation and it's effect on Earth's Global Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide” by the NASA Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio.