A NASA satellite that monitors CO2 is revealing the inner workings of our planet

Thanks to a NASA satellite that’s been mapping the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in unprecedented detail, scientists are learning much more about how plants work, and how the land and oceans suck up and release CO2. This information could help us figure out how our world will respond to global warming.

New research shows that during the 2015–2016 El Niño, for instance, droughts, heat, and fires in tropical areas caused plants and soil on three continents to pump out the largest growth of carbon dioxide on record. Plants use CO2 to grow, and they suck it out of the atmosphere. But during this event, because of little rain and higher than normal temperatures in South America, Africa, and Asia, some plants didn’t absorb as…

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