An Overview of Terra Mission Results Related to the Carbon Cycle

Document Type

Review Article

Publication Date



Launched in December 1999 as the Earth Observing System's flagship observatory, the Terra Mission (formerly EOS AM-1) carries a suite of five instruments that collect comprehensive global measurements of earth's atmosphere, cryosphere, lands, and oceans. One of the mission's science goals is the collection of data that will enable a better quantitative understanding of earth's carbon cycle through direct observation of atmospheric constituents and the provision of spatially explicit information about biophysical surface properties useful for modeling. In this article, highlights of the mission's use of five main instruments (ASTER, CERES, MISR, MODIS, and MOPITT) to address various aspects of the carbon cycle are reviewed, using examples of earth's photosynthetic production on land, vegetation structure and ecosystem response, and the extent and frequency of fires and their contribution of aerosols and carbon emissions to the atmosphere.



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