19 – Climate Change Exercise. Part B: Atmospheric CO2

Instructions

Part B of this exercise involves examination of time series data for atmospheric CO2 concentrations at Mauna Loa, Hawai’i. The first website for accessing these data (Mauna Loa CO2 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.) presents:

  • Recent monthly mean CO2 at Mauna Loa: monthly values for atmospheric CO2 concentrations at Mauna Loa over the past five years (since 2014 – red line) and these same values corrected for the average seasonal cycle (black line).
  • The second website presents a longer-term record of CO2 concentrations since measurements began. It can be accessed using the tab entitled Full Record above the 5-year monthly mean graph:

    The third website presents information on the growth rate of atmospheric CO2 concentrations since measurements began. It can be accessed using the tab entitled Growth Rate above the 5-year monthly mean graph:

    Questions

    Question 1 5 pts

    Describe the annual pattern of fluctuations shown by the red line in the graph entitled “Recent monthly mean CO2 at Mauna Loa” specifying the timing and value of high and low concentrations plotted.

    A strong answer will specify the timing and values of highest and lowest concentrations, noting units, and the typical range of annual fluctuations, describing the overall trend and CO2 values in terms of persistent patterns.

    Question 2 5 pts

    Why do the values of atmospheric CO2 concentrations show annual fluctuations?

    A strong answer will describe the annual variation in terms of difference in CO2values and the timing of the change and explain why the CO2 values exhibit annual fluctuations based on seasonal variations in plant uptake of CO2 and its subsequent release.



    Question 3 5 pts

    What is the overall increase in CO2 shown by the black line in the graph entitled “Recent monthly mean CO2 at Mauna Loa” over the 5-year time period represented?

    A strong answer will report specific CO2 concentrations over the past 5 years, noting units, and use quantitative data citing pertinent values in the comparison of the different years.



    Question 4 5 pts

    Is the difference in CO2 concentrations between October 2018 and October 2017 noted numerically in the green box above the graph (Monthly Average (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.) comparable to the annual increase over the past 5 years?

    A strong answer will report specific CO2 concentrations over the past 5 years, noting units, and use quantitative data citing pertinent values in the comparison of the past years’ increase to that in previous years.

    Question 5 5 pts

    What is the overall increase in CO2 shown by the black line (seasonally corrected data) in the graph entitled “Atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa Observation” since records began in 1958?

    A strong answer will report specific CO2 concentrations, noting units, and comment on the overall trend in the longer time series data in terms of the increase in concentration in ppm and as a percentage of the 1958 value.

    Question 6 5 pts

    How does the annual increase in CO2 concentrations over the past 5 years (previous question) compare with the annual average increase in CO2concentrations over the 59-year record?

    A strong answer will report specific CO2 concentrations, noting units, and comment on the overall trend in the longer time series data, comparing the average long-term increase with that observed over the past 5 years .




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