This image was created with data acquired by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder, AIRS, during July 2008. The image shows large scale patterns of carbon dioxide concentrations that are transported around the Earth by the general circulation of the atmosphere. Dark blue corresponds to a concentration of 368.2 parts per million and dark red corresponds to a concentration of 386.2 parts per million. The effect of the northern hemisphere mid-latitude jet stream is to set the northern limit of enhanced carbon dioxide. The zonal flow of the southern hemisphere mid-latitude jet stream results in a belt of enhanced carbon dioxide girdling the globe, fed by biogenesis activity in South America, forest fires in both South America and Central Africa, and the clusters of gasification plants in South Africa and power generation in southeastern Australia.
The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder, AIRS, in conjunction with the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit, AMSU, senses emitted infrared and microwave radiation from Earth to provide a three-dimensional look at Earth's weather and climate. Working in tandem, the two instruments make simultaneous observations all the way down to 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, three-dimensional map of atmospheric temperature and humidity, cloud amounts and heights, greenhouse gas concentrations, and many other atmospheric phenomena. Launched into Earth orbit in 2002, the AIRS and AMSU instruments fly onboard NASA's Aqua spacecraft and are managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., under contract to NASA. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
More information about AIRS can be found at http://airs.jpl.nasa.gov.