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Geophysical Monograph Series



  • Carbon sequestration
  • Carbon cycle (Biogeochemistry)

Index Terms

  • 3305 Atmospheric Processes: Climate change and variability



The Mauna Loa carbon dioxide record: Lessons for long-term Earth observations

Eric T. Sundquist

U.S. Geological Survey, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA

Ralph F. Keeling

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA

The Mauna Loa carbon dioxide record is an iconic symbol of the human capacity to alter the planet. Yet this record would not have been possible without the remarkable work of one man, Charles David Keeling. We describe three emergent themes that characterized his work: (1) his desire to study and understand the processes that control atmospheric CO2 and the global carbon cycle, (2) his campaign to identify and minimize systematic measurement error, and (3) his tenacious efforts to maintain continuous funding despite changing government priorities and institutions. In many ways, the story of the Mauna Loa record demonstrates that distinctions between research and “routine” measurements are not very useful in long-term monitoring of Earth properties and processes.

Citation: Sundquist, E. T., and R. F. Keeling (2009), The Mauna Loa carbon dioxide record: Lessons for long-term Earth observations, in Carbon Sequestration and Its Role in the Global Carbon Cycle, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 183, edited by B. J. McPherson and E. T. Sundquist, pp. 27–35, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2009GM000913.


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