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Image Narration | CO2 Concentration Figure

HIPPO Princiapl Investigator, Steve Wofsy, narrates this figure and explains the CO2 concentration distribution that was found during HIPPO Phase I, that took place during January, 2009.

This is a colored graph, that actually summarizes some of the most interesting results from the first HIPPO flight program. It’s showing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, as you would take a slice down the middle of the atmosphere, from the North Pole on the right-hand side, to the South Pole on the left-hand side and from the surface up to about 14,000 meters or about 40,000 feet.

What you see there is that in the northern hemisphere there’s more CO2 than there there is in the southern hemisphere, at this time of year. And you can also see that the atmosphere has moved these gradients in such a way that you can see a lot of contrast as you move as you move horizontally, but very little contrast in the vertical direction, so the atmosphere has really stirred stuff up from the surface up into the middle part of the atmosphere. One of the things that we wanted to learn from HIPPO is just how efficient that process is, it’s been kind of a subject of debate. And we can see here that it is quite efficient, at least at this time of year.

Another thing that’s really interesting is that if you look on the lower left-hand side of the figure you see extraordinarily low concentrations of CO2. That’s because that during the  summer time in the cold waters of the Antarctic there are very intense blooms of phytoplankton and little green organisms in the ocean, and they are sucking CO2 out of the ocean and out of the atmosphere in order to make their green parts, just like any plant does.

HIPPO Phase I CO2 Concentration


HIPPO is a landmark study for many reasons, not the least of which is it is the first time scientists have systematically mapped global distribution of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, covering the full troposphere in all seasons and multiple years.

  • HIPPO I :: 8 January-30 January 2009
  • HIPPO II :: 31 October-22 November 2009
  • HIPPO III :: 24 March-16 April 2010
  • HIPPO IV :: 14 June-11 July 2011
  • HIPPO V :: 9 August-9 September 2011