Rocky Raccoon: Using Data to explore Carbon in the Rocky MountainsAccess Rocky Raccoon Data.
Use and Relevance
Use in Teaching
- Plant photosynthesis and respiration
- The role of forests in the carbon cycle
- How the carbon cycle changes on daily, seasonal, and yearly timescales
- Factors that have contributed to an increase in carbon dioxide
- The effect of synoptic weather patterns on carbon dioxide concentrations
- Using data to make hypotheses about factors that effect the carbon cycle
- Using the data to make visualizations of temporal changes of the carbon
- Interpreting when photosynthesis and respiration is occurring
- How weather conditions effect the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations
Exploring the Data
Data Type and Presentation
Accessing the Data
Go to the Rocky RACCOON website to access data for each of the four sites. The scroll bar on the left-hand side of the webpage displays the acronyms for the four sites: FEF (Fraser Experimental Forest), NWR (Niwot Ridge), SPL (Storm Peak Laboratory) and HDP (Hidden Peak). Below each of the acronyms are three additional links. For example,FEF
By clicking on the "Full Record" link the user will be directed to a webpage that contains the data file for that location. At the top of this page there is a link to the "Hourly Datafile". This link will bring the user to the complete hourly data record, as described above in the "Data Type and Presentation" section. The "Site Info" link will give the user information on the instrument site location, such as latitude, longitude, and altitude along with several pictures of the site. The "Plots/Diagnostics" link will provide the user with a graph of the full data record and the most recent diurnal data record. Just below the "Diagnostics" graphs is a link to a suite of diagnostic plots that are used to ensure the instrument is working properly.
Manipulating Data and Creating Visualizations
One way to process this data is to create graphs using a spreadsheet application such as Excel. Graphs could be used to visualize the changes of the carbon dioxide concentrations on various time scales.
Once the user reaches the hourly data file it can be saved as a text file by right clicking the mouse and saving it in either Notepad or Wordpad. The user should then open the text file and delete the paragraphs of text which describe the data except for the header just above the data that indicates what each column represents. The data that the user may be interested in is in the column entitled "CO23". This is the carbon dioxide data from the highest inlet height for its respective site. In addition, the "month", "day" and "hour" are also listed. The data are recorded for every hour of the day.
Tools for Data Manipulation
A spreadsheet application such as Excel is the primary data analysis tool.
To make a graph of the data, click on the chart icon in the top toolbar (it looks like a colorful histogram). If it is not on the toolbar, then click on "Tools" and select "Chart".
Further instructions on plotting data in Excel may be found at the following websites:
Physics Laboratory, Excel Tutorial 7: Graphing Data and Curve Fitting
Internet for Classrooms (I4C), Using Excel in a classroom: Creating a Chart or Graph
SERC: How to Use Excel
About the Data
Raw measurements are collected approximately every 2.5 minutes using the Autonomous Inexpensive Robust CO2 Analyzer (AIRCOA). The measurements are then averaged over a period of one hour. The data are transmitted to the Rocky RACCOON website via the internet.
Limitations and Sources of Error
Rocky RACCOON data have been compared with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) carbon dioxide measurements and indicate an intercomparibility of +/- 0.2ppm or better. If and when there are issues with the data indicated by "-999.99", the user may go to the "Notes" link (next to the "Hourly Datafile" link) to see why the data are missing.
References and Resources
Scientific References that Use this Dataset
Rocky RACCOON data will soon be included in NOAA's CarbonTracker.
Other Related Scientific References
Helliker et al., 2005. Regional-scale estimates of forest CO2 and isotope flux based on monthly CO2 budgets of the atmospheric boundary layer. The Carbon Balance of Forest Biomes, 77-92.
Law et al., 2002. Using high temporal frequency data for CO2 inversions. GLOBAL BIOGEOCHEMICAL CYCLES, Vol. 16, NO. 4, 1053.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 WG1 Chapter 7. Coupling Between Changes in the Climate System and Biogeochemistry. WG1, Chapter 7, 499-588. Download PDF.
North American Carbon Program (NACP):
Guiding documents and other materials
State of the Carbon Cycle Report PDF
Other related Education Resources
Schematic of the AIRCOA instrument