Satellite observations of carbon dioxide (CO2) are important because of their potential for improving the scientific understanding of global carbon cycle processes and budgets. We present an analysis of the column-averaged dry air mole fractions of CO2 (denoted XCO2) of the Scanning Imaging Absorption Spectrometer for Atmospheric Cartography (SCIAMACHY) retrievals, which were derived from a satellite instrument with relatively long-term records (2003–2009) and with measurements sensitive to the near surface. The spatial-temporal distributions of remotely sensed XCO2 have significant spatial heterogeneity with about 6–8% variations (367–397 ppm) during 2003–2009, challenging the traditional view that the spatial heterogeneity of atmospheric CO2 is not significant enough (<4%) to have any large effect on terrestrial ecosystem carbon cycles. By comparison with surface measurements from the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) GLOBALVIEW network, significant statistical relationships between XCO2 and surface CO2 were found for major ecosystems, with the exception of tropical forest. In addition, when compared with a simulated terrestrial carbon uptake from the Integrated Biosphere Simulator (IBIS) and the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) carbon emission inventory, the latitudinal gradient of XCO2 seasonal amplitude was influenced by the combined effect of terrestrial carbon uptake, carbon emission, and atmospheric transport, suggesting no direct implications for terrestrial carbon sinks. From the investigation of the growth rate of XCO2 we found that the increase of CO2 concentration was dominated by temperature in the northern hemisphere (20–90°N) and by precipitation in the southern hemisphere (20–90°S), with the major contribution to global average occurring in the northern hemisphere. These findings indicated that the satellite measurements of atmospheric CO2 improve not only the estimations of atmospheric inversion, but also the understanding of the terrestrial ecosystem carbon dynamics and its feedback to atmospheric CO2.