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Tag Archives: CO2

How much has growing season/allergy season increased in your town?

Climate Central has your answer with their post, Here’s How Frost-Free Season Affects Allergy Season (4/4/18). You will find a drop down menu to produce graphs like this one for Grand Rapids, which has seen as average increase of about 25 frost free days. On the downside,

 A study sampling 10 locations from Texas to Saskatoon, Canada indicated that pollen seasons lengthened between two to four weeks from 1995 to 2009, with the largest increases in the northernmost areas.

In addition, increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide enhances photosynthesis in plants, meaning that they produce more pollen.

They don’t provide the data, unfortunately, but they do provide a clear methodology so that you can create the data set for your city. You can get weather data from NOAA Climate Data Online. There is great potential here for student projects in statistics courses.

Which World Region Emits the Most CO2?

Our World in Data’s latest visualization is this graph of CO2 emissions by world region.  If you go to the page you will find the usual high quality interactive graph with data in a excel file.  You can read off the graph that in 2015 China emitted 10.23 Gt of CO2 while the U.S. emitted 5.1 Gt.  On the other hand, while China emitted about twice as much CO2 their population is about four times the size of the U.S.

Where Do Carbon Emissions Go?

Where do carbon emissions go seems like an obvious question. Into the air of course. If so, then one would expect a near perfect linear relationship between emissions and atmospheric CO2.  The graph here has yearly carbon emissions in million tonnes per year (as reported by the Global Carbon Project)  vs atmospheric CO2 in ppm from Mauna Loa (see data in the calculus project page).  The graph may not be as linear as expected and, while maybe some of it is explained by issues of mixing in the atmosphere or the need for a lag, part of the answer is based on where the carbon goes after it has been emitted.  A recent NYT article, Carbon in the Atmosphere is Rising – Even as Emissions Stabilize, sheds some light on the issue:

Scientists have spent decades measuring what was happening to all of the carbon dioxide that was produced when people burned coal, oil and natural gas. They established that less than half of the gas was remaining in the atmosphere and warming the planet. The rest was being absorbed by the ocean and the land surface, in roughly equal amounts.

In essence, these natural sponges were doing humanity a huge service by disposing of much of its gaseous waste. But as emissions have risen higher and higher, it has been unclear how much longer the natural sponges will be able to keep up.

In fact, much of the carbon is absorbed in the ocean and land surface, and that will add variability to the relationship. The Global Carbon Project has this data available and it can be used by teachers. Go to their page and click on the global budget link for the data, which includes ocean and land sinks of carbon.  If you want the data that created the graph on this page go here.

Atmospheric CO2 growth

According to the NOAA report Carbon dioxide levels rose at record pace for 2nd straight year (graph here from their report).

“The rate of CO2 growth over the last decade is 100 to 200 times faster than what the Earth experienced during the transition from the last Ice Age,” Tans said. “This is a real shock to the atmosphere.”

Globally averaged CO2 levels passed 400 ppm in 2015 — a 43-percent increase over pre-industrial levels. In February 2017, CO2 levels at Mauna Loa had already climbed to 406.42 ppm.

NOAA provides an interactive website with data: Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide. The calculus materials page here also has Mauna Loa CO2 data and a project.