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Atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa Observatory


These graphs show carbon dioxide measurements at the Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii. The graphs display recent measurements as well as historical long term measurements. The related website summarizes in graphs the recent monthly CO2, the full CO2 Record, the annual Mean CO2 Growth Rate, and gives links to detailed CO2 data for this location, which is one of the most important CO2 tracking sites in the world.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Static Visualization supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 1 Cross Cutting Concept, 4 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 1 Performance Expectation, 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 1 Cross Cutting Concept, 3 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Evidence is that human impacts are playing an increasing role in climate change
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4f
Observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system
About Teaching Principle 5
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Our understanding of climate
About Teaching Climate Literacy
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Increased GHG concentrations in atmosphere will remain high for centuries and affect future climate
About Teaching Principle 6
Other materials addressing 6b
Humans affect climate
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing Humans affect climate

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • On the website, at the bottom of the page, are data sources listed in the event that educators want to reproduce the graph or have students manipulate the data.

About the Science

  • The Mauna Loa CO2 data are being obtained at an altitude of 3400m in the northern subtropics and represent the longest existing continuous record of CO2 since methodical measurements began in 1958 during the International Geophysical Year (IGY).
  • The famous "Keeling Curve" shows the seasonal change of CO2 concentration due to the vegetation growth and is central to any discussion of climate change.
  • Additional information can be found at http://scrippsco2.ucsd.edu/home/index.php
  • Comments from expert scientist: The graphs are visually appealing and information is clearly presented. The data sources and methodology of calculating the CO2 concentrations are described very well and references are provided for additional information. The video of CO2 concentration history is especially neat.

About the Pedagogy

  • These up-to-date figures display the relevant data very well.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Static Visualization supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

MS-ESS3.D1:Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 1


MS-C1.4:Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data.

Science and Engineering Practices: 4

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

MS-P4.1:Construct, analyze, and/or interpret graphical displays of data and/or large data sets to identify linear and nonlinear relationships.

MS-P4.2:Use graphical displays (e.g., maps, charts, graphs, and/or tables) of large data sets to identify temporal and spatial relationships.

MS-P4.4:Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena.

MS-P4.5:Apply concepts of statistics and probability (including mean, median, mode, and variability) to analyze and characterize data, using digital tools when feasible.

High School

Performance Expectations: 1

HS-ESS2-6: Develop a quantitative model to describe the cycling of carbon among the hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere.

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 3

HS-ESS2.D2:Gradual atmospheric changes were due to plants and other organisms that captured carbon dioxide and released oxygen.

HS-ESS2.D3:Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate.

HS-LS2.B3:Photosynthesis and cellular respiration are important components of the carbon cycle, in which carbon is exchanged among the biosphere, atmosphere, oceans, and geosphere through chemical, physical, geological, and biological processes.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 1


HS-C1.5:Empirical evidence is needed to identify patterns.

Science and Engineering Practices: 3

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

HS-P4.1:Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution.

HS-P4.2:Apply concepts of statistics and probability (including determining function fits to data, slope, intercept, and correlation coefficient for linear fits) to scientific and engineering questions and problems, using digital tools when feasible.

HS-P4.4:Compare and contrast various types of data sets (e.g., self-generated, archival) to examine consistency of measurements and observations.

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