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Published on December 8th, 2008 | by Ariel Schwartz


Scientists: Space Lasers Could Measure Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

December 8th, 2008 by  


Lasers: They’re more than just fun toys. The European Space Agency (ESA) recently demonstrated how lasers can accurately measure atmospheric CO2 levels. The A-SCOPE (Advanced Space Carbon and Climate Observation of Planet Earth) space mission is one of six being considered by the agency.

According to ESA scientists, atmospheric column CO2 can be measured from space using two short laser pulses emitted at adjacent wavelengths. As a result of the pulses, CO2 is absorbed by one of the wavelengths. The other wavelength is used as a reference point, and the comparison between the two shows the total column concentration of CO2.

A-SCOPE proponents believe that understanding more about the movement of carbon between the atmosphere, land, and ocean will improve estimates of the global carbon cycle’s future changes.

If the A-SCOPE mission is chosen, expect a launch in 2016.

Photo Credit: A-SCOPE 

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About the Author

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.

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