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OCO-2 News Articles

  • Carbon Dioxide Passes Global 400 ppm Milestone May 27, 2014
    Carbon Dioxide Passes Global 400 ppm Milestone
    A new carbon dioxide milestone has been reached according to the World Meteorological Agency. Average carbon dioxide measurements at all monitoring stations in the northern hemisphere were above 400 parts per million for the month of April, the first time that’s been recorded in human history.Carbon Dioxide Passes Global 400 ppm Milestone
  • Ralph Basilio: Unfinished Business May 20, 2014
    Ralph Basilio: Unfinished Business
    Dr. Ralph Basilio feels the full weight of the OCO-2 project on his shoulders. As Project Manager, he has ultimate responsibility for the success of the mission. After the launch failure of the first OCO satellite, which resulted in the loss of the mission, Basilio and the team were committed to rebuilding the instrument so that it could answer the urgent science questions it was built to resolve.Ralph Basilio: Unfinished Business
  • Study: Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels Threaten Human Nutrition May 7, 2014
    Study: Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels Threaten Human Nutrition
    Climate change is threatening human nutrition, according to experts, who say rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are robbing the global population of vital plant nutrients. That conclusion follows the release of the 2014 National Climate Assessment, which predicts that extreme weather will disrupt agricultural production, and have negative consequences for food security, both in the U.S. and globally. The study says the damage will come not only through changes in crop yields, but also from changes in the ways climate affects food processing, storage, transportation, and retailing.Study: Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels Threaten Human Nutrition
  • Serendipity Leads to Nouvel Way to See Plant Health May 5, 2014
    Serendipity Leads to Nouvel Way to See Plant Health
    Science is full of serendipity -- moments when discoveries happen by chance or accident while researchers are looking for something else. For example, penicillin was identified when a blue-green mold grew on a Petri dish that had been left open by mistake.Serendipity Leads to Nouvel Way to See Plant Health
  • NASA Carbon-Counting Satellite Arrives at Launch Site April 30, 2014
    NASA Carbon-Counting Satellite Arrives at Launch Site
    A NASA spacecraft designed to make precise measurements of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere is at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., to begin final preparations for launch.NASA Carbon-Counting Satellite Arrives at Launch Site
  • NASA's OCO-2 Brings Sharp Focus on Global Carbon April 17, 2014
    NASA's OCO-2 Brings Sharp Focus on Global Carbon
    Simply by breathing, humans have played a small part in the planet-wide balancing act called the carbon cycle throughout our existence. However, in the last few hundred years, we have taken a larger role. Our activities, such as fossil fuel burning and deforestation, are pushing the cycle out of its natural balance, adding more and more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.NASA's OCO-2 Brings Sharp Focus on Global Carbon
  • Building Better Soybeans for a Hot, Dry, Hungry World April 15, 2014
    Building Better Soybeans for a Hot, Dry, Hungry World
    A new study shows that soybean plants can be redesigned to increase crop yields while requiring less water and helping to offset greenhouse gas warming. The study is the first to demonstrate that a major food crop can be modified to meet multiple goals at the same time.Building Better Soybeans for a Hot, Dry, Hungry World
  • Ocean Acidification: The Other Carbon Dioxide Problem March 31, 2014
    Ocean Acidification: The Other Carbon Dioxide Problem
    Fundamental changes in seawater chemistry are occurring throughout the world's oceans. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) from humankind's industrial and agricultural activities has increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. The ocean absorbs about a quarter of the CO2 we release into the atmosphere every year, so as atmospheric CO2 levels increase, so do the levels in the ocean. Initially, many scientists focused on the benefits of the ocean removing this greenhouse gas from the atmosphere. However, decades of ocean observations now show that there is also a downside — the CO2 absorbed by the ocean is changing the chemistry of the seawater, a process called OCEAN ACIDIFICATION.Ocean Acidification: The Other Carbon Dioxide Problem
  • Satellite Shows High Productivity from U.S. Corn Belt March 31, 2014
    Satellite Shows High Productivity from U.S. Corn Belt
    Data from satellite sensors show that during the Northern Hemisphere's growing season, the Midwest region of the United States boasts more photosynthetic activity than any other spot on Earth, according to NASA and university scientists.Satellite Shows High Productivity from U.S. Corn Belt
  • CO2 on Path to Cross 400 ppm Threshold for a Month March 18, 2014
    CO2 on Path to Cross 400 ppm Threshold for a Month
    Last year, atmospheric carbon dioxide briefly crossed 400 parts per million for the first time in human history.CO2 on Path to Cross 400 ppm Threshold for a Month

Watching the planet breathe
Watching the planet breathe

When plants photosynthesize, they use energy from sunlight to turn carbon dioxide from the air into sugars used to live and grow. In doing so, they give off a fluorescent light — a glow that can’t be seen with the naked eye, but that can be seen with the right instruments. More photosynthesis translates into more fluorescence, meaning that the plants are very productive in taking up carbon dioxide. The amount of carbon dioxide taken up by plants is called “gross primary productivity,” and is the largest part of the global carbon cycle.