Thanks To Schmidt Futures, The Keeling Curve Lives To Measure CO2 Another Day

The Keeling Curve, whose daily measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) in Mauna Loa have demonstrated how rapidly fossil fuel emissions are altering greenhouse gases, recently received $1 million in funding from the Schmidt Family’s Foundation to sustain future operations.

“More than ever, we need good data to inform our critical policy decisions, and the Keeling Curve is an essential measurement of a changing climate,” said Wendy Schmidt. The Schmidt Ocean Institute also furnished a $450,000 grant to measure changes in seawater chemistry in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Charles David Keeling initially started taking these daily measurements at Hawai’i’s Mauna Loa Observatory – as well as Arctic and Antarctic stations – in 1958. And, Keeling’ son, Ralph, has continued these efforts into the present day. Since the initial measurement of 313 ppm CO2 measured just over 50 years ago, atmospheric CO2 has increased by 100 ppm CO2 – a rate that is 100 times faster than prior natural increases.

Despite the critical climate trends that the Keeling Curve has revealed and life-altering research it has made possible, scientists have struggled to consistently fund the long-term dataset. Funding from the Weather Bureau helped launch the dataset and it has since been maintained by a patchwork of short-term grants. This is partially because federal funding for long-term research has declined in favor of studies and grants spanning approximately three years.

A budget shortfall in 2013 led to crowdfunding efforts that raised a little over 2% of what is needed to operate the monitoring program each year. It was at this critical juncture that the Schmidts first provided support so that three years’ worth of backlogged samples could be analyzed. And, their most recent contribution will help fund the measurements through 2025.

“Atmospheric CO2 is an important bottom line for the climate problem,” said Ralph Keeling, “We are very grateful to be able to continue this important work.” ”

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The lockdown learning curve

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

How rapidly does a learning curve decline during a period of prolonged interruption? That’s the question asked by US researchers in the International Journal of Quality Engineering and Technology. Adedeji Badiru of the Air Force Institute of Technology in Dayton, Ohio, U.S., has specifically looked at how the “lockdown” response to the global COVID-19 pandemic has affected business, industry, academia, and government.

There is perhaps insufficient “live data” to draw solid conclusions. Badiru has nevertheless found that workers, as a result of being barred from practicing their normal functions and learning on the job, have experienced a decline in performance. The restrictive nature of lockdown implemented to reduce the spread of the virus has led to performance degradation.

He has postulated an analytical framework that researchers can use as new data emerges to allow empirical modeling of the adverse impacts of the lockdown on learning curves. The inherent concern with such adversity in the face of the global pandemic is that a decline in learning can translate to a decline in quality of work and quality of products. He suggests retrospective research might now follow in the wake of his IJQET column.

How social distancing during a pandemic affects the elderly in rural South Africa

More information:
Adedeji Badiru. Quality insight: exponential decay of quality learning curves during COVID-19 lockdown, International Journal of Quality Engineering and Technology (2020). DOI: 10.1504/IJQET.2020.110328

The lockdown learning curve (2020, October 16)
retrieved 16 October 2020

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