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Video: See a year in the life of Earth's CO2

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Posted at 5:28 PM, Nov 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-22 09:53:39-05

Carbon in a bottle.

NASA has released a new supercomputer model that shows how carbon dioxide travels throughout the world. It compresses a year of emissions into about 3 minutes.

Watch below to see below how plumes of carbon dioxide swirl around with weather patterns:

In the video, most of the carbon dioxide is produced in the more industrialized northern hemisphere, while the south produces other greenhouse gases from burning forests.

“Carbon dioxide is the most important greenhouse gas affected by human activity. About half of the carbon dioxide emitted from fossil fuel combustion remains in the atmosphere,” NASA climate scientist Bill Putman said in the video.

The rest of the gas is absorbed by plants, mostly in the summer when they’re blooming, or by the ocean.

Global emissions of carbon dioxide have tripled since 1960, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The biggest single producer of carbon dioxide in 2008 was China, which produces 23 percent of emissions.

The United States ranks second with 19 percent of emissions but has one-fourth the population of China.

“We’re seeing higher concentrations of carbon dioxide accumulate in the atmosphere each year,” Putman said. “This is contributing to the long-term trend of rising global temperatures.”

Gavin Stern is a national digital producer for the Scripps National Desk. Follow him on twitter at @GavinStern or email him at gavin.stern@scripps.com.