The Modern Atmospheric CO2 Record
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This page first made public: Aug 9, 2006
This material was originally created for Starting Point:Introductory Geology
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.
- Become familiar with atmospheric CO2 fluctuations for three very different geographic locations (North pole, Tropics, and South Pole).
- Better understand what processes control atmospheric CO2 concentrations on an annual basis at different latitudes.
- Better understand what processes might explain the long-term trend in atmospheric CO2 concentration.
- Use and discuss data in tabular and graphical formats.
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
[click either image to enlarge]
Teaching Notes and Tips
References and Resources
- The Modern Atmospheric CO2 Record lab activity provides good documentation for references and additional reading.
- For those interested, here is a CO2 concentration file with data ( 13kB Jan27 04) for Mauna Loa, South Pole, and Barrow through 2002. Tab delimited text.
- For more current data than the file above, Trends in Carbon Dioxide, from NOAA, includes current information and CO2 data records from Mauna Loa. And all three stations have more up to date files linked from Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) or you can obtain the most current raw data files from the CDIAC FTP site (brw = Barrow; mlo = Mauna Loa; spo = South Pole).
- Here's an animation of the annual cycle (January through December) in vegetation index ( 130kB Jan27 04) from NASA's Earth Observatory (more info) This can be used to help students understand the connection between CO2 fluctuations and the seasons.
- Here's an animation of the annual cycle (January through December) in Sea WiFS Ocean Chlorophyll ( 218kB Jan27 04) from NASA's Earth Observatory (more info) This can also be used to help students understand the connection between CO2 fluctuations and the seasons.
- Related activity: Carbon Dioxide Exercise, by Randy Richardson, involves students working in groups to plot carbon dioxide concentrations over time on overheads and to estimate the rate of change over five years. Stacked together, the overheads for the whole class show an increase on carbon dioxide over five years and annual variation driven by photosynthesis.