Friday, January 1, 2010

How Synthetic is the Keeling curve?

While tooling around the internet, I ran into a report about an upcoming article in Geophysical Research Letters.

“To assess whether the airborne fraction is indeed increasing, Wolfgang Knorr of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol reanalyzed available atmospheric carbon dioxide and emissions data since 1850 and considers the uncertainties in the data.

In contradiction to some recent studies, he finds that the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide has not increased either during the past 150 years or during the most recent five decades.

The research is published in Geophysical Research Letters.


I was surprised to learn that someone thought that CO2 hadn't gone up. After all we have the famous Keeling Curve.

It has wonderful geometric beauty, and that implies a certitude about the CO2 levels.

Now, while I won't necessarily support Knorr's conclusions or methods, he did spur me to look again at the measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere. It spurred me to ask a question: Why is the Keeling Curve so geometrical?

Let's start by looking at the CO2 measurements at the South Pole. There is nothing geometrical about it.

How about Baring Head, NZ?

Clearly the Keeling curve looks artificial compared to the other stations on earth. One could say that maybe the other researchers are simply incompetent, but that seems harsh. Why is the Keeling curve so regular, especially since it is sitting on a volcano that occasionally spews out additional CO2? In 40 years has not one single measurment been taken when the volcano was blowing additional CO2 towards the station? That seems highly unlikely.

Below are all the Pacific stations plotted together. Note the scatter. After subtracting the trend of all these temporally aligned measurments, the standard deviation is 6 ppm. Yet the Keeling curve claims, implicitly, accuracy less than 1 ppm.

But these stations all start in the 1950s. What gives? Were there no measurements of atmospheric CO2 prior to that time? Sadly, the IPCC and Keeling, simply ignore the vast literature on previous CO2 measurements.

Ernst-Georg Beck published a paper analysing the 90,000 measurments of atmospheric CO2 from 1812 to the present. It is at Beck, Ernst-Georg, "180 years of atmospheric CO2 gas analysis by chemical methods" Energy and Environment 18,(2007):2, pp. 259-282

The story his analysis tells is a big blow to the climate hysteriacs, who seem never to access or mention CO2 measurments made by chemical analysis over this span. The IPCC uses the ice cores, which, in light of 90,000 atmospheric measurments of CO2 over the past 200 years gives the appearance of cherry-picking. A short version of a peer reviewed paper is found here

Let's first look at Beck's chart showing the historical measurments. One immediately sees that CO2 was higher than the 'consensus' IPCC scientists would allow. They use the ice core data and ignore actual atmospheric measurements.

Now lest someone say that this kind of high CO2 levels were unusual, look at the bi-weekly data from Giessen, Germany for the years 1939-1941.

The IPCC graphs don't mention or show the variations in CO2 turned up by Beck here and see the picture below. The IPCC is clearly cherry-picking the data. Look at the insert below.

At the very least, the IPCC should explain specifically why it is rejecting all these historical measurments of CO2. As it is, they act as if these measurements don't exist.


  1. Let's see. The IPCC performance:
    1. They have no long-term temp history 10K years
    2. They falsified the Hockey Stick period
    3. Their predictions of current temp are wrong
    4. They falsified the long-term CO2 history
    5. Their predictions for 2009 CO2 are way too high

    The IPCC's work is garbage. The Enron of science. Abolish them. Investigate for fraud and misappropriation of funds.

  2. "I was surprised to learn that someone thought that CO2 hadn't gone up."

    Oh, Knorr doesn't say CO2 hasn't gone up. It's the percentage of atmospheric CO2 (as opposed to the fraction that disappears into sinks and other compartments) that has remained constant, and that's a big question by itself.

    Also, AGW predicts CO2 percentage would go up too due to "saturation" of CO2 sinks, so that they could get a nice hockeystickish graph. And that's not happening. So, yet another falsified IPCC prediction.

  3. Bill Hamilton a friend, emailed me saying the cyberdog ate his comment. Here is what he said:

    ""It strikes me as strange to monitor CO2 at Mauna Loa. Mauna Loa is approximately 20 miles WNW of Kilauea, which erupted 33 times between 1954 and 1983, and has been erupting continuously since 1983. The prevailing winds are from the east."

    I might add that Mauna Loa is itself a volcano which, although it isn't as active as Kilauea, did erupt in 1984. Both volcanos probably produce CO2 between eruptions."

  4. I think that it is great that you bring those kind of articles that they refute that there are an anormal increaed in atmospheric CO2.23rh It would be nice that you add the whole reference to check the article out.

  5. Very interesting piece. I like the idea of a Keeling Curve electronic display in Times Square. Any idea when George Shea's children's book is coming out? I'd like to buy a copy or two for my daughter as well as a global warming skeptic friend