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This website documents my latest research on the history of carbon dioxide gas analysis. My work had been published by several journals and had been presented at national and international meetings. In literature we can find more than 200 000 directly measured CO2 data since 1800 from which I have estimated the annual CO2 background averages since 1826 to 1960, the end of the measurements by chemical methods. IPCC prefers ice core reconstructions. This new data set reveals remarkable coherence with other geophysical timeseries. Please feel free to check data, methods, stations and historical literature. Comments are welcome.

CO2MBL estimation

Fig. 1 Atmospheric CO2 background level 1826 – 1960. CO2 MBL estimation 1826- 1960 from directly measured data (Beck 2009); black line smoothed by a Savitzky-Golay filter, grey area= estimated error range).Savitzky Golay smoothing parameters : width of the moving window: 5, order: 2; passes: 3.  
(> 400 papers, >200 000 raw samples, > 100 000 selected for MBL estimation)

 

CO2 background level and the sea surface temperature (SST)

CO2 background from 1826 to 2008 shows a very good correlation ( r= 0,719 using data since 1870) to global SST (Kaplan, KNMI), with a CO2 lag of 1 year behind SST from cross correlation (maximum correlation: 0,7204). Kuo et al. 1990 derived 5-month time lag from MLO data alone compared to air temperature.

Fig. 2. Annual atmospheric CO2 background level from 1856 to 2008 compared to SST (Kaplan, KNMI); red line, CO2 MBL reconstruction from 1826 to 1959 (Beck 2010); CO2 1960-2008: (Mauna Loa); blue line, annual SST (Kaplan) from 1856 -2003; SST= sea surface temperature

 

The CO2 background level or MBL (Marine Boundary Level)

There seems some confusion in what the CO2 background level in atmosphere is different to the CO2 levels near ground. The atmospheric CO2 background concentration had been speculated by C. Keeling since 1955 and had been measured by him since 1958 at the Mauna Loa observatory ( Hawaii, ~4 km altitude). It represents the CO2 levels in higher troposphere and near sea surface (MBL= marine boundary layer) as measured in world wide network by NOAA listed in WDCGG.

Near ground the CO2 levels are highly influenced by local sources, therefore their concentrations show large variations especially over the continents. Over sea surface the water absorption provide a small SEAS (seasonal variation).

The vertical CO2 profiles are the key to estimate background levels from near ground measurements. These are characterized by large seasonal fluctuation (SEAS) near ground on continents in non well-mixed environments and small variations in the higher troposphere or over sea surface (MBL) in well-mixed environments. Because all CO2 sources are assumed to come from lithosphere there is a physical connection from the ground to the higher layers. Fig. 1 shows the most important globally CO2 sources and sinks in the lithosphere- atmosphere boundary layer. Anthropogenic sources and others below 1% of total emissions according to IPCC [IPCC 2007] had been omitted. Within the atmosphere there exists a CO2 gradient with a somewhat lower concentration and better mixing in the higher troposphere.

CO2 sinks/sources

Fig. 3 CO2 sources and sinks in the boundary layer of the lithosphere-troposphere.

1: ocean degassing/absorption, 2: photosynthesis, 3: respiration, 4: submerse geological degassing; 5: limestone weathering, 6: surface coal oxidation, 7: volcanic degassing and subduction degassing, 8: precipitation absorption, 9: soil respiration. CO2 flux < 1% of total emissions (IPCC) omitted.

The main globally effective controllers for CO2 flux in the lithosphere/atmosphere system are the oceans (1) and the biomass (2, 3, 9). The phytoplankton in the surface layer of the oceans act as controlling agent for ocean bound CO2.
The amount of geological surface flux of CO2 from continent is greatly underestimated according to Mörner and Etiope 2002. Limestone weathering, surface coal oxidation and non-volcanic degassing are not quantified in detail in the IPCCs carbon cycle. Also the submerse fluxes in the oceans has not been quantified. [IPCC 2007]. Local sources and sinks control local mixing ratios.

Let´s take a look at typical continental station far from human influence, Harvard Forest (USA), a NOAA GlobalViewCO2 station part of the global WDCGG CO2 network. Near ground the atmospheric parameters are measured on a tower at different hights, NOAA has measured from altitudes of 500 m to 8 km by aeroplane at that location.

From the NOAA Globalview-CO2 sampling locations [NOAA 2009] I have chosen the vertical CO2 gradient from the Harvard Forest site as an example for a typical continental location with vegetation at a typical latitude (lat 42,547N, lon -72,17E).


CO2SEAS
Fig. 4 Vertical profile of CO2 ( deviations from 0) at Harvard Forest (USA), lat 42,54N, lon -72,17E, measured by aeroplane at different altitudes of 500, 1500, 2500, 3500, 4500, 5500, 6500 and 7500 m.(data from NOAA Globalview-CO2 2009)

Fig. 4 shows the larger SEAS fluctuation near ground (500 m, 21,5975 ppm) and the smaller variation of the background levels at higher altitudes (7500 m: 7,138 ppm). The SEAS average is nearly identical for 500 m: 0, 0,099225 and 7500 m: -0,00551667( 0,1047 ppm difference).

Figure 5 shows the measured SEAS near ground (29 m) at Harvard Forest station USA (Ameriflux), a typical continental station with strong vegetational influence. Please note large seasonal variations in the order of 100 ppm up to 500 ppm maximum. Because the annual average of the SEAS near ground is very close to the background level in the higher troposphere we can easiliy calculate using simple nonlinear regression methods the CO2 MBL level according to NOAA within about 1% accuracy. MBL average 1991-2007 (NOAA): 367,56 ppm; CO2 -wind-speed-background- approximation (CWBA) for 1991-2007 results in 372 ppm. Error: +1,19 % (fig. 4)

hf reg

Fig. 5 Seasonal variations (SEAS) at Harvard Forest 1991-2007 (Ameriflux 2010)

Fig. 6 CO2 windspeed Background aproximation Harvard Forest 1991-2007 (Beck 2009, data Ameriflux )
Reference: http://public.ornl.gov/ameriflux/Site_Info/siteInfo.cfm?KEYID=us.harvard_forest.01

 

Wavelet Spectral Analysis of CO2 MBL and Temperature

SSA CO2 timeseries

Cross corelation

click to enlarge

Interpretation: WTC (wavelet coherence) spectra of the CO2 MBL reconstruction with geophysical time series: 1: temperature northern hemisphere (CRU)-CO2 MBL; 2: temperature Antarctica - CO2 MBL; 3: temperature comnispa (stalagmite) - CO2 MBL; 4: SST NH - CO2 MBL; 5. continuous wavelet spectrum CO2 MLO/ icecore

dark blue areas in cone of interest (COI): no spectral information ; dark red areas black lined: strong coherence (=spectral correlation, see periods on the left vertical scale); arrows: phase angle, horizontal= linear correlation; vertical down= time delay CO2 after temperature

1: coherence around 8-14 years in 1860-90, 1940 and >1980; 2. coherence around 1900 -1960 at >24 years; 3: linear correlation around 1860 -1900 at 8-14 years; 4. very strong coherence around 6-14 years in 1860-1960 and 14-32 around 1916-1970 at 14-32 years (6,2+18,6 years = lunar nodal cycle), CO2 show time delay after SST of 1 year. See also cross correlation below. 5: no spectral information in CO2 from MLO-ice core (IPCC); conclusion: possible data processing or methodical problems.


© Ernst-Georg Beck 2006-2010; www.realCO2.de; last update 08 August 2010
contact: info*at*realco2.de