Hawaii CO2 monitor lab interrupted by Mauna Loa eruption


Via Flickr

Grace Smith | December 2, 2022

The Mauna Loa eruption on the morning of Nov. 28 caused a 124-foot tower, which collects carbon dioxide measurements nearly every hour for over 60 years, to stop operating Nov. 28. The tracker is not currently gathering data on rising level heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere after the eruptions’ lava flow shut down power in the lab. 

The Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, erupted on Nov. 28 for the first time since 1984 and oozed lava on the volcano’s summit. Per the U.S. Geological Service, the lava contained within the summit does not impact downslope Hawaiians.

The carbon dioxide measurement lab, known as the Keeling Curve, is proof that human activity is causing climate change. Geoscientist Ralph Keeling, son of Keeling Curve creator Charles David Keeling, said the future carbon dioxide readings from the lab are “very troubling.” 

Charles Keeling originally selected Hawaii for the location of the famous recording system because, with the distance from Hawaii to other major land masses and the mountain’s landscape, there would be no contamination from the photosynthetic activity of plants in the area.

“The observatory will eventually come back, but it’s going to take a long time before it’s really back to normal,” Ralph Keeling said. “There’ll be a gap, and it’s too bad. It’s a really fantastic and important long-term record.”

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