The importance of carbon monitoring systems


In 2010, NASA launched the Carbon Monitoring System (CMS) to develop the scientific capacity required to monitor and enforce future programmes tackling climate change. Environmental scientists claim the CMS programme has significantly advanced our understanding of the carbon cycle; an understanding desperately needed to effectively combat climate change. CMS was threatened with cancellation after being omitted from the US Congress’ 2018 budget bill, however received renewed funding in February 2019 – much to the relief of US climate research scientists.

CMS is a program which funds research to convert carbon dioxide and methane measurements from existing instrumentation into usable information for policy makers, enabling them to make more well informed decisions to combat these emissions. To achieve this, CMS plans to exploit the full suite of NASA satellite observations and commercial technologies. In addition, by improving modelling and analysis capabilities, CMS will deliver higher accuracy predictions with fewer uncertainties – providing national and international policy regulators with the tools they need.

One of the projects under this program will create a computer model which combines tree measurements gathered by aerial spectroscopy using multispectral sensors located on aircraft and in-situ measurements to predict how much carbon dioxide a forest can absorb. For more information on the NASA CMS program check out its website here.