180 Years accurate CO 2 – Gasanalysis of Air by Chemical Methods (Short version)

Dipl. Biol. Ernst-Georg Beck, Merian-Schule Freiburg, 8/2006

1. Short summary on the knowledge about the CO 2 air gas analysis (2006)

The context of carbon dioxide as the base of all organic matter on earth with fundamental importance for metabolism of organisms is taught in each school and all universities of the world. The background for these realizations were investigated among other things for approx. 200 years by scientists such as Pettenkofer, Benedict, Krogh (Nobel prize), Lundegardh and Warburg (Nobel prize).

In IPCCs Climate Change 2001: Working Group I: The Scientific Basis you will find the following in chapter 3: “The Carbon Cycle…”:3.1:
“The concentration of CO<sub>2</sub> in the atmosphere has risen from close to 280 parts per million (ppm) in 1800, at first slowly and then progressively faster to a value of 367 ppm in 1999, echoing the increasing pace of global agricultural and industrial development. This is known from numerous, well-replicated measurements of the composition of air bubbles trapped in Antarctic ice. Atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub> concentrations have been measured directly with high precision since 1957; these measurements agree with ice-core measurements, and show a continuation of the increasing trend up to the present.” Responsible for the relative measurements since 1958 is C.D. Keeling, University of California at San Diego, USA. He used cryogenic condensation of the samples and NDIR spectroscopy against a reference gas with manometric calibration. Today all measurements are done by this technique as a standard (WMO).  Keelings laoboratory delivers the reference gases worldwide and have the calibration monopoly. (38, 39, 40,41, 42, 43, 44, 45)

Measurements stations spreading over the world are mainly in oceanic areas to get air without contamination from vegetation, organisms and civilisation, the so called background level of CO<sub>2</sub>. So his initial work mainly on the active volcano Mauna Loa (Hawaii) is the todays reference for determination of carbon dioxide with an accuracy of down to 0.1 ppm. (20, 21, 22, 24) Accuracy from 1959 was much more in error and approx. 4 ppm between 1964 –1968 max. 1 ppm. (130).

A thoroughly review of existing literature (175 in this study) revealed in contrast to the publisched opinion based on the founders of modern greenhouse theory Callendar and Keeling that there exists some 90,000 accurate measurements by chemical methods before 1957 back to 1857 with an accuracy below 3%. Accurate measurements had been done amongst others by de Saussure 1826, Pettenkofer/v.Gilm 1857, Schulze 1864/71, Farsky 1874, Uffelmann 1886, Letts und Blake 1897, Krogh and Haldane 1904, Benedict 1912, Lundegardh 1920, van Slyke 1929, Dürst and Kreutz 1934 alternatively 1940, Misra 1942 or Scholander 1946 with measuring instruments through which from 1857 (Pettenkofer) an accuracy of +/-0,0006 Vol% to under +/-0,0003 Vol% =~3 ppm (Lundegardh 1926) was achieved. They show precise seasonal an some diurnal variation.

These pioneers of chemistry, biology, botany, medicine and physiology constituted the today’s knowledge of metabolism, nutrition science, biochemistry and ecology. Modern climatology ignored their work ’til today even though it is the basis of all textbooks of the mentioned faculties and was honoured with several Nobel prizes.

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