Quick Fire Science

Quick Fire Science episode

Thu, 16th Jan 2014

Keeling Curve Crowdfunding

Mauna Loa Observatory (c) University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

Crowd funding programmes like Kick-starter have been used to raise money for music projects and Hollywood films, but now it could even be used to raise funding for long running scientific projects. The so-called Keeling Curve is the world’s longest unbroken record of how much carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere, but after funding cuts it’s now asking the public to chip in to keep the data going. To find out more about this archive and the gas it measures, here’s your Quick Fire Science with Kate Lamble and Dave Ansell.

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  • Keeling Curve Crowdfunding

    Crowd funding programmes have raised money for Hollywood films, but now it could even be used to monitor carbon dioxide levels



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I will say that we need high quality data for any climate sciences, including long-term CO2 monitoring.  However, at this point the CO2 curve seems to be rather predictable, and one could potentially use less frequent readings to maintain the curve, unless someone has some other data source that needs to be correlated with it.

I would think that one of the critical measurements would be the TSI, although perhaps future versions might separate it by wavelength.  However, as far as I can tell, the TSI just stopped recording about July 30 of 2013.  Past TSI measurements have been problematic due to the joining of data from multiple satellites with poor data overlap.

The ultimate type of crowd-funding is government funding, and one needs to determine what role the government should have in maintaining the climate data. CliffordK, Sat, 18th Jan 2014

The only interesting thing about the Keeling Curve is that it peaks in May and has a minimum in October every year, which is exactly what you would not expect if it was dominated by anthropogenic emission, which peaks in February with a minimum in July. Since nobody seems concerned by that fact, there seems little point in continuing to measure it.

is surely the Vostok ice core data which goes back 400,000 years, long before 1958. alancalverd, Sun, 19th Jan 2014

The Earth respires.  When the sun is out, trees convert sunlight + CO2 in to nutrients. 
When the sun is not out, the trees consume some of the nutrients to produce CO2 + energy.

Since there is more land-mass in the northern hemisphere, there is more oxygen produced in the northern hemisphere.  It is actually very interesting. 

Surely you're not suggesting that the 9 gigatons of carbon (33 gigatons of CO2) released from annual fossil fuel combustion is not contributing to the increase of global atmospheric carbon dioxide???

The respiration of the planet is actually critical for us to understand the impact of our burning fossil fuels and release of fossil fuel associated CO2
is surely the Vostok ice core data which goes back 400,000 years, long before 1958.
The Vostok ice core does include CO2 that is incorporated into the ice, although it has to be calibrated with actual data from air measurements.  There are questions about the accuracy for recent data (most current few decades)  (which we get from Mauna Loa and other recording stations).  There is also some question whether there is a shift in data, perhaps representing a blending of a decade or so of data within the ice.  That may, in fact, be a good reason to have two independent data sources so that over time we will be able to better calibrate the ice core data.

Keep in mind that the ice core temperature data is all based on "proxies", usually looking at shifts in isotopes of oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen.  Certainly we need good actual data to calibrate the proxies. CliffordK, Tue, 21st Jan 2014

The Mauna Loa annual cycle is well established and amazingly reproducible from year to year. The underlying upward trend may be due to a hundred causes, fossil fuel burning being among them, but the sinusoidal ripple is significant because it is out of phase with the sun, and thus tells us that something else, very important, very longlasting, and of almost constant amplitude, is going on.

I won't bore you with my explanation, but it fits with the Vostok findings.  alancalverd, Tue, 21st Jan 2014

Are you telling me that they want to take away the fundings? The next step should be to make a law forbidding global warming, all together. That should teach it. I'm sure Canada would be proud to take the first step there, or maybe Russia?

"As background, the Scripps CO2 and O2 programs have been supported over the years almost entirely through a bundle of federal grants, typically each lasting three years or so, with several grants running at one time. This process is haphazard, and its success has rested on showing that our long-term observational efforts fit into the ever-shifting priorities of the federal agencies.  This past year was especially difficult, as several grants came to the end of their funding cycles and the landscape for support within the federal agencies, for a variety of complex reasons, was especially problematic.

Faced with the prospect of shutting down key elements of the program and the loss of critical staff, we made a concerted campaign to patch together enough support to sustain the program through this calendar year.  The hope was that the prospect for federal funding might improve in a year’s time.  We therefore redoubled our efforts to secure all forms of support, not just from federal sources, but also private sources, including turning to crowdsourcing."

It's not going to work crowdsourcing a annual need of around $1 million for the O2 and CO2 programs. That fast becomes a joke. Let's see who is contributing then.

"Measurements by the Scripps CO2 program are supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and by Earth Networks, a technology company that is collaborating with Scripps to expand the global GHG monitoring network.

In kind support for field operations is also provided by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), Environment Canada, and the New Zealand National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA)."

And they can't raise a measly million together? Then they should make it a matter for more western governments I think. I'm sure both Sweden and UK would be able to share in. yor_on, Sun, 13th Apr 2014

Alan, what peaks are you referring to?

"The global average concentration of CO2 in Earth's atmosphere is about 0.0397%, or 397 parts per million (ppm). There is an annual fluctuation of about 3–9 ppmv which roughly follows the Northern Hemisphere's growing season. The Northern Hemisphere dominates the annual cycle of CO2 concentration because it has much greater land area and plant biomass than the Southern Hemisphere. Concentrations reach a peak in May as the Northern Hemisphere spring greenup begins and decline to a minimum in October when the quantity of biomass undergoing photosynthesis is greatest." from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_in_Earth%27s_atmosphere

Is it this? yor_on, Sun, 13th Apr 2014

Btw: we should hit 400 ppm soon, a new record as I understands it. O0ps, sorry, we've already passed it.

400.49 ppm April 12, 2014 The Keeling Curve. This one might be interesting  Climate Milestone: Earth’s CO2 Level Passes 400 ppm

D***n those politicians, if they just had banned global warming as I told them. Then this wouldn't have happened. Much more effective than just stopping contributing..

They never listen, do they?

This comment might be interesting too, comparing ice core data to the Keeling Curve?

"On the ice core question, it turns out that the ice core reconstructions overlap with the first couple decades of the South Pole record of atmospheric CO2 made by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego scientists, and the overlap shows very good agreement.  Also, ice core records recovered from different locations in Antarctica agree quite well with each other.  Both of these facts demonstrate that the ice cores are recording atmospheric composition quite faithfully.

The main limitation of the ice-core data is that it is effectively a 10-year or longer running average, because air of slightly different ages is mixed together in firn layers – layers of compacted snow that falls in one year and survives unmelted to the following year – before the air is sealed off into bubbles in the ice layers below the firn.  The ice-core record therefore not as sharp in time as the direct atmospheric record, but it’s plenty sharp enough to document changes decade by decade, and therefore the rise from preindustrial times towards the present."

(And firn is snow that stays over the years, ice that is at an intermediate stage between snow and glacial ice. With a "appearance of wet sugar, but has a hardness that makes it extremely resistant to shovelling.")

And this maybe? Global Climate Change discussing "lack of correlation" between CO2 and temperatures. yor_on, Mon, 14th Apr 2014

It would seem like funding an observatory on land in Hawaii would be cheap compared to some other things that have been done. 

How much money do we really have to spend to play bumper-cars on the atomic level?

So much of our weather and climate monitoring is now being done with very expensive satellites that only last for a few years before needing replaced with more very expensive satellites, sometimes with data gaps. CliffordK, Mon, 14th Apr 2014

Not much Clifford. And satellites are cheap, considering the wealth of data you accumulate from them. But USA who has been foremost in sending up such satellites seem very uninterested those days. But as I say, it's finally political decisions, and they, as well as their contributors, are indeed thinking wrong there. Much simpler to just ban Global warming.

I mean, it worked for the church, why not for governments? Considering the amount of interest shown by the public? yor_on, Mon, 14th Apr 2014

What worked for the church?  Banning homosexuality?  Wasn't that one of the scandals that rocked the church to its very foundations?

The government could legislate for better population control, at least in each country.  And, potentially tying 3rd world aid to 3rd world population control policies would help too.

The governments are pulled from all directions.  There is a huge demand for energy, power, heat, and automobiles.

What they need to do is to work on encouraging more efficiency, and looking for alternative energy sources.  The USA lags decades behind most of the rest of the world in automobile efficiency standards.  And, it is a global market.

It wouldn't take too much of a stretch of the imagination to say that what is on the surface of the ground is owned by homeowners, but what is subsurface is owned by the government. 

In parts of the USA there is a huge fossil fuel energy boom.  Digging up as much natural gas, oil, and coal as they can possibly get their hands on.  And, apparently prices have plummeted. 

Everybody knows it is not sustainable.  In 100 years or so, the oil will be much harder to get.  The natural gas will be harder to get.  And, we'll have made changes to our atmosphere that could take thousands of years to reverse to a large extent, or perhaps millions of years for it to reverse 100%.  And, we still don't understand what the changes we are making today will mean to our future.  Furthermore, our use of petroleum is far more than just burning auto fuel.  Virtually everything one has today has at least some plastic components, directly attributable to the petroleum industry.  Even our food is fertilized with products made from petroleum. 

Many people see the writing on the wall of a future crash of humanity.  Yet, nobody seems to care. CliffordK, Mon, 14th Apr 2014

I'm surprised :) now you're sounding downright cynical Clifford. Isn't bans a good thing? I mean, they do allow for a lot of privacy, probably democratic too, if presented the right way. Well, got to admit that you and me both seems to have problems understanding why we keep doing things we know are doomed. yor_on, Mon, 14th Apr 2014

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