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In this animation, NASA instruments show the seasonal cycle of vegetation and the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The animation begins on January 1, when the northern hemisphere is in winter and the southern hemisphere is in summer. At this time of year, the bulk of living vegetation, shown in green, hovers around the equator and below it, in the southern hemisphere.
As the animation plays forward through mid-April, the concentration of carbon dioxide, shown in orange-yellow, in the middle part of Earth's lowest atmospheric layer, the troposphere, increases and spreads throughout the northern hemisphere, reaching a maximum around May. This blooming effect of carbon dioxide follows the seasonal changes that occur in northern latitude ecosystems, in which deciduous trees lose their leaves, resulting in a net release of carbon dioxide through a process called respiration. Carbon dioxide is also released in early spring as soils begin to warm. Almost 10 percent of atmospheric carbon dioxide passes through soils each year.