Both images in the slide show the global spreading of carbon dioxide on the Earth globe as it follows the large scale patterns of the atmospheric general circulations. The color codes in these two images are different in order to account for the carbon dioxide increase from 2003 to 2007. The 2003 carbon dioxide image is the first global image to be derived from space observations. If the color bar for 2003 were to be used for 2007, the resulting 2007 map would be saturated with reddish colors, and the fine structure of the distribution of carbon dioxide obscured.
The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) in conjunction with the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU) sense emitted infrared and microwave radiation from the Earth to provide a three-dimensional look at Earth's weather and climate. Working in tandem, the two instruments can make simultaneous observations all the way down to the Earth's surface, even in the presence of heavy clouds. With more than 2,000 channels sensing different regions of the atmosphere, the system creates a global, 3-D map of atmospheric temperature and humidity, cloud amounts and heights, greenhouse gas concentrations, and many other atmospheric phenomena. The AIRS and AMSU fly onboard NASA's Aqua spacecraft and are managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, under contract to NASA. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
The AIRS Public Web site can be found at http://airs.jpl.nasa.gov.