University of Michigan researcher contributes to NASA findings on carbon in the atmosphere showcased in the journal Science


High-resolution satellite data from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 are revealing the subtle ways that carbon links everything on Earth – the ocean, land, atmosphere, terrestrial ecosystems and human activities. Scientists using the first 2 1/2 years of OCO-2 data have published a special collection of five papers today in the journal Science that demonstrates the breadth of this research. In addition to showing how drought and heat in tropical forests affected global carbon dioxide levels during the 2015-16 El Niño, other results from these papers focus on ocean carbon release and absorption, urban emissions and a new way to study photosynthesis. A final paper by OCO-2 Deputy Project Scientist Annmarie Eldering of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and colleagues gives an overview of the state of OCO-2 science.

Manish Verma, a Geospatial/Data Science Consultant at the University of Michigan’s Consulting for Statistics, Computing and Analytics Research (CSCAR) unit, contributed as a coauthor to an article on a new way to measure photosynthesis over time and space.

Using data from the OCO-2, Verma’s analysis helped expand the utility of measurements of solar induced fluorescence (SIF), which indicates active photosynthesis in plants. Verma’s work showed that SIF data collected from the OCO-2 satellite provides reliable information on the variability of photosynthesis at a much smaller scale — down to individual ecosystems.

This can, in turn, “lead to more reliable estimates of carbon sources — that is, when, where, why and how carbon is exchanged between land and atmosphere — as well as a deeper understanding of carbon-climate feedbacks,” according to the Science article.

For more, see the NASA press release ( and the Science article (