This CarbonTracker snapshot of surface uptake for one week in July 2005 shows the strongest North American sinks of CO2 (blue) are across the coniferous forests of western Canada and the U.S. Upper Midwest. (Image courtesy NOAA.)
Scientists who study the exchange of carbon between land, ocean,
and atmosphere have a powerful new tool at their disposal. NOAA’s CarbonTracker was
unveiled in March.
CarbonTracker allows a wide variety of users to call up maps of the
estimated net flux of carbon across the globe (both including and
excluding land areas) as well as North America. Values can be calculated
on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis for intervals between 2000
and 2005. (Because it takes months to assemble and double-check carbon
flux data from various parts of the globe, the site is not intended
to provide real-time maps.) In addition to the data available online,
the CarbonTracker team can generate biological carbon fluxes over
a global 1-by-1-degree grid at three-hourly resolution.
CarbonTracker was built through intensive collaboration between NOAA;
NASA; the U.S. Department of Energy; the Meteorological Service of
Canada; Columbia University; the University of California, Irvine;
Duke University; and several other institutes and universities in
the Netherlands, Italy, and the United States.
“The open access to CarbonTracker means that anyone can scrutinize
our work and suggest improvements,” says Pieter Tans, chief
of the carbon cycle group at NOAA’s Earth Systems Research
Laboratory. Figures, data, and even the source code are all freely
available, says Tans. He and his colleagues ask that researchers
who plan to rely heavily on CarbonTracker contact them before publication
to ensure proper usage and co-authorship where appropriate.