CO2 (Carbon dioxide) concentration, History of

Posted by Administrator (admin) on 9th February, 2010
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The wel known graph for CO2 is based on Ice core data (”Siple”) and direct measurements from Hawaii (Mauna Loa). The Siple data ended with a CO2 concentration of 330 ppm in 1883. 330 ppm CO2 in 1883 is way to high, 330 ppm was first reached by Mauna Loa data around 1960-70. The two graphs (Siple and Mauna Loa) was then united by moving Siple data 83 years forward in time. The argument to do this was, that the atmospheric content of the ice was around 83 years older than the ice. So rather “fresh” atmospheric air should be able to travel down in the snow and ice corresponding to the 83 year old ice? This is perhaps 50 meters down or probably more. And then the fresh air is locked in the 83 year old ice. So a good ventilation down 83 year old ice, and then the ice closes. This hypothesis is still debated – but the classic Siple-Mauna Loa CO2 graph is used widely as solid fact.


Actual CO2 measurements from the atmosphere :


Left: Ernst G. Beck.  Measured from balloons, Finland 1935, CO2 background concentration approximately ca 360 ppm.

Right: Ernst G. Beck. Measured from German Alps, 1939-40, ca 372 ppm CO2. This result is best estimate using a “wind profile”, that is, by reading the values measured at highest wind velocities.


To verify the wind methods ability to estimate the background CO2 concentration, the wind method was applied to English data for the years 1992-2007 and we obtain 372 ppm, corresponding to Mauna Loa in the period – and in fact also corresponding to the results from Germany 1939-40.


Above the CO2 concentrations measured directly in the atmosphere, collected and processed by Ernst Georg Beck.

We see a peak around 1940 with a CO2 concentration at approximately 380ppm, just slightly less than CO2 concentrations today, 390 ppm. However, these data indicates, that before the explosion in human CO2 emissions 1960-70,  nature on its own showed CO2 concentration above James Hansens declared “safe level” of 350 ppm.


 Ernst Georg Beck data originates from a huge catalogue of CO2 measurements obtained by highly qualified scientists all over the world, even Nobel price winners.

 In the chapter”The Biosphere and CO2” the close year to year relation ship between CO2 rise and temperature is illustrated. This close bond also shows, that variations in temperature will always affect CO2 levels. Thus a constant CO2 level for hundreds or thousand years – as suggested by the Antarctic ice cores – could be correct if temperatures in the period where constant. But this is not quite the case, and this might be an issue for the accepted ice core CO2 data.



Below, left: CO2 concentration ice core data Antarctica, right: results from ”Gribesoe” lake in Denmark. It appears, that CO2 concentration has been more oscillating than the ice core data suggest, and the concentration level is generally higher than ice core data can reflect:



One more investigation of ancient CO2 concentrations shows a CO2 level at”347 +/- 11 ppm”  around 9000 b.p : http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/284/5422/1971

Hansens ”safe” level was reached 9000 years ago? And what about IPCC´s ”Pre industrial level” on 280 ppm CO2 which serves as basis for models and further scientific work? As concentrations of CO2 appears higher than the 280 ppm already in the earliet stone age, perhaps IPCC are referring to flint stone industry when they use the term “pre-industrial”?

Last changed: 9th February, 2010 at 07:53:16



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