This work briefly discusses four of the current research emphases at Oak Ridge National Laboratory regarding the emission of CO2 from fossil fuel consumption, natural gas flaring, and cement manufacture. These emphases include: (1) updating the 1950 to present time series of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel consumption and cement manufacture, (2) extending this time series back to 1751, (3) gridding the data at 1° × 1° resolution, and (4) estimating the isotopic signature of these emissions.
A latitudinal distribution of carbon emissions is being completed. A southward shift in the major mass of CO2 emissions is occurring from European–North American latitudes toward Central–Southeast Asian latitudes, reflecting the growth of population and industrialization at these lower latitudes.
The carbon isotopic signature of these CO2 emissions has been reexamined. The emissions of the past two decades were approximately 1% lighter than previously estimated.
Emissions of CO2 from the consumption of fossil fuels have resulted in an increasing concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere of the Earth. Combined with CO2 releases from changes in land use, these emissions have perturbed the natural cycling of carbon, resulting in the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere and concern that this may significantly change the climate of the Earth (Houghton et al., 1990, 1996).
Understanding the changes currently being observed and changes likely to occur in the future requires the best possible information on the flows of carbon in the Earth system.