A NASA Earth Exchange (NEX) study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences discovered that a temperature anomaly of only 1ºC leads to an annual 3.5 Petagram anomaly in the annual CO2 growth rate, equivalent of 1/3 the annual global emissions of the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation together.
The results of the study, which comprise a 50-year analysis based on temperature and rainfall patterns during the El Niño years, give scientists a new toolkit to make sense of the Earth’s carbon cycle as it experiences changes due to human activities. The team and its leader, Dr. Weile Wang, analyzed data gathered between 1959 and 2011 on atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and global air temperature.
There is a strong link between fluctuating seasonal CO2 levels and tropical temperatures over the past 50 years, and scientists have discovered that temperature changes are more important than rainfall changes in the concentration of atmospheric CO2.
Researchers discovered that despite major Earth events like fire, flooding, earthquakes, and El Niño, among others, the Earth’s system has been remarkably consistent in regulating variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
Annual changes in temperatures over the tropical rainforests act with the absorption of carbon dioxide and the release of carbon dioxide, the two important mechanisms that naturally regulate year-to-year changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations.