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Keeling Curve: Study of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

Location: La Jolla, CA, USA
Date: 1950-1969
Creator(s): Keeling, Charles David

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.

Era: 1950s
Innovation designated by:
The Keeling Curve, December 2014
Courtesy Wikicommons/Scrippsnews (CC BY-SA 4.0)
The Keeling Curve, December 2014
Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California
8622 Kennel Way
La Jolla, CA, USA

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California

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