The Keeling Curve: Studies of Atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa

National Historic Chemical Landmark

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego
Mauna Loa Observatory, NOAA

The Keeling Curve (also known as the Mauna Loa Record) will be designated a National Historic Chemical Landmark in 2015 by the American Chemical Society, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, and the Mauna Loa Observatory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In 1958, Charles David Keeling (1928–2005) of Scripps Institution of Oceanography began a cooperative program for the study of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) at the newly established Mauna Loa Observatory of the U.S. Weather Bureau (now a part of NOAA) and other sites around the world. By 1960, Keeling revealed two significant findings, reporting the first quantitative estimate of Earth’s natural seasonal CO2 oscillations while also discovering a steady annual increase in CO2, the most significant greenhouse gas contributing to global climate change. Keeling advanced our understanding of mankind’s impact on Earth by linking fossil fuel emissions to rising levels of CO2. His dedication to continuous and accurate measurements enabled these data to become an unequivocal record of the global rise in CO2 and an icon of atmospheric science. 

The designations will take place at NOAA's Mauna Loa Observatory on April 30, 2015, and at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography on June 12, 2015. Additional information will be presented on this page as details emerge. Contact the NHCL Program Manager for information.