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New York/Canadian-Media: A target for global warming not to exceed 1.5°C was adopted by the Paris Agreement setting a limit on the additional carbon we can add to the carbon budget, European Space Agency (ESA) reported.
Counting Carbon. Image credit: ESA
Only around 17 percent of the carbon budget is now left, which counts to about 10 years at current emission rates.
After each country reports its annual greenhouse gas emissions to the United Nations (UN), scientists then use the bottom-up approach to calculate the carbon budget by setting these emissions against estimates of the carbon absorbed by Earth’s natural carbon sinks.
About a quarter of our greenhouse gas emissions directly relies on the way we utilize our lands. Forests, being the largest store of carbon on the land, fire acts as a pipeline for carbon to pass from the land to the atmosphere, where as ocean color serves as an important carbon sink.
ESA’s Regional Carbon Cycle Analysis and Processes (RECCAP) project is using this information to reconcile the differences between the bottom-up and top-down approaches.
Phase 2 (RECCAP-2) is coordinated by the Global Carbon Project, and collects and synthesizes regional data for 14 large regions of the globe subject to sufficient harmonization to enable scaling these budgets to the globe and to compare different regions.
Combining these observations with atmospheric and biophysical computer models to deduce carbon fluxes at the surface not only improves the precision of each greenhouse gas budget but also helps separate natural fluxes from agricultural and fossil fuel emissions. This work will help us gauge whether we can stay within the 1.5°C carbon budget, or if more warming is in store.