Greenhouse gases and carbon

Climate change in the 21st century is largely driven by increasing levels of greenhouse gases generated by human activities, such as those from burning fossil fuels. The challenge is to track, understand and predict changes in greenhouse gas levels, and in the natural stocks and flows of carbon.

ACCSP research provided information on changes to greenhouse gas emissions and concentrations, and how these affect our environment, as well as improving our understanding of the global and regional carbon cycles.

In recent years, the ACCSP has also supported the Global Carbon Project to provide information on annual changes to global carbon release and uptake, and a complete carbon balance for the Australian continent.

ASSCP science highlights

  • Improving our understanding of the role of the Southern Ocean in the uptake of carbon dioxide and its effect on the global carbon budget.
  • Supporting the development of the online global carbon atlas.
  • Taking high-precision measurements of both concentrations and isotopic ratios of atmospheric carbon dioxide over the Earth that have improved our understanding of atmospheric and oceanic transport processes.
  • Developing methods to calculate gas exchange at the Earth’s surface that have provided a better understanding of how the atmosphere, land surface and oceans interact.
  • Producing the first full carbon balance for the Australian continent.
  • Supporting Australia’s participation in the initial development and updating of the surface ocean carbon dioxide atlas—the major database for detecting changes in the ocean carbon sink and for testing ocean carbon cycle models.
  • Using air measurements from ice cores, firn (the upper layer of ice sheets), air archives and direct atmospheric observations to prepare long-term greenhouse gas concentration data for driving model simulations of climate, carbon and chemistry.
  • Ice core studies supported by the ACCSP Extending our records of the concentration of important gases in the atmosphere, including nitrous oxide, methane, and halons and perfluorocarbons, through ice core studies.

More information on these and other science highlights is available in the ACCSP Annual Reports.