Charles David Keeling of Scripps Institution of Oceanography was the leading authority in establishing the global atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) record. In 1958, Keeling began measuring atmospheric CO2 concentrations from Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory. Using rigorous analytical procedures, he revealed new information about natural and man-caused carbon trends. The precision, accuracy and continuity of Keeling’s research over the span of decades provided one of the most important scientific linkages between fossil fuel combustion and global climate change due to the greenhouse effect.
Keeling’s legacy includes a measurement program that endures to this day, providing an authoritative record of atmospheric CO2 concentrations that is a cornerstone of modern climate science. The Keeling Curve, the iconic graph that presents these data, is a powerful symbol of the human impact on the environment and the role of fossil fuels in global climate change.