This technology will be complementary to and supportive of NASA's substantial effort to provide global monitoring of carbon dioxide (OCO-2, ASCENDS, etc). The powerful constraints provided by isotopic measurements of carbon dioxide can help achieve the stated goals of the ASCENDS mission, namely to provide improved ability to predict/model long-term changes in the climate cycle based both on the understanding of the natural processes driving the variability of natural carbon sources and sinks, and on the transport of carbon through the atmosphere. In addition, NASA plays a leading part in the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). USGCRP has a pivotal role in implementing President Obama's Climate Action Plan, including the responsibility to grow the knowledge base needed to respond to a changing climate and a transforming world. The technology being developed in the proposed project will provide a crucial new tool to quantify the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide.
In addition to being an important research tool, this laser isotope monitor will be helpful to climate treaty verification and to the enforcement and verification of carbon cap and trade systems. For example, the climate agreements that were negotiated at the recent COP 21 meeting in Paris require that nearly every country will need to begin assembling detailed inventories of their greenhouse-gas emissions. Creating verifiable carbon dioxide budgets on this scale will require extensive and sophisticated carbon dioxide measurements systems and isotopic constraints will be extremely useful if not essential. The market for monitoring carbon dioxide is already large and will grow dramatically in coming years as the world begins to truly grapple with challenge of climate change. Isotopic measurements of carbon dioxide are certain play a significant role.