Changing carbon: Atmospheric measurements

  • Image: Scripps Institution of Oceanography/UC San Diego

  • Scripps Institution of Oceanography / UC San Diego

  • Science Museum 2010

  • Image: MeiTeng / RGB Stock

  • Image: Claudia Otte - Fotolia.com

  • Image: Scripps Institution of Oceanography/UC San Diego

  • Image: Bernard BAILLY / Fotolia.com

    American scientist Charles Keeling began making direct measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) in the 1950s. Laboratory analysis of air samples taken over many years showed a steady rising trend in the concentration of CO2  in the atmosphere, superimposed on seasonal variations. The graph displaying this trend is known as the ‘Keeling curve’. Since Keeling’s pioneering measurements, scientists have built up a network of over 100 different sampling locations worldwide and have confirmed Keeling’s initial results, showing an accelerating rise in CO2.