Volcanic eruption in Hawaii threatens long-term climate monitoring system

(ORDO NEWS) — The eruption of the Mauna Loa volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii damaged the 40-meter tower of the station, which has been collecting data on the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere every hour for the past 64 years.

The flow of lava from the slopes of the mountain led to a power outage in the monitoring laboratory, created by geochemist Charles Keeling in 1958. Currently, research work is continued by his son, Dr. Ralph Keeling.

Before observations began, many scientists believed that the Earth‘s oceans and forests could absorb all the excess carbon dioxide released by burning fossil fuels.

But observations in Hawaii over time disproved this theory. Constant monitoring made it possible to find out how much carbon emissions are actually able to assimilate natural ecosystems.

Charles Keeling developed the first technique for accurately measuring CO2 in the atmosphere. At the beginning of his work, the technique recorded 313 molecules of carbon dioxide per million molecules of air.

Today, the content has reached 421 parts per million, which was the highest concentration of carbon in the atmosphere over the past 4 million years.

Measurements have been interrupted only a few times over the past six decades: for three months in 1964 due to federal budget cuts, for just over a month in 1984, and in the final days when Mauna Loa cut off power to the lab.

According to experts, this time it will take at least several months. Officials are considering delivering the generator to the science center via helicopter.


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