It was 50 years ago that a young American scientist, Charles David Keeling, began tracking CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere at two of the world’s last wildernesses – the South Pole and the summit of the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii.
His very precise measurements produced a remarkable data set, which first sounded alarm bells over the build-up of the gas in the atmosphere, and eventually led to the tracking of greenhouse gases worldwide.
TIMELINE: carbon monitoring
1957: Charles David Keeling starts work monitoring CO2 at the South Pole and Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii
1958: Keeling starts first direct continuous atmospheric measurements of CO2
Early 1970s: Noaa, the US federal agency, starts monitoring CO2 worldwide
1995-2003: Noaa’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) at Boulder, Colorado, develops and maintains the world’s standard references for CO2 and other greenhouse gases