This list of papers contains observations of carbon dioxide concentration in Earth’s atmosphere. This is a surprisingly broad subject, and the list below tries to cover some of the different measurement techniques and different aspects of the issue. The list is not complete, and will most likely be updated in the future in order to make it more thorough and more representative.
UPDATE (June 28, 2012): Chédin et al. (2003) and Buchwitz et al. (2007) added.
UPDATE (June 19, 2012): Benedict (1912), Krogh & Brandt (1929), Haldane (1936), Carpenter (1937), Buch (1934), Buch (1939), Buch (1939), Buch (1948), Glueckauf (1951), Effenberger (1951), Stepanova (1952), Slocum (1955), Callendar (1940), Callendar (1958), Bray (1959), Wigley (1983), Fonselius & Koroleff (1955), and Fonselius et al. (1956) added.
UPDATE (December 6, 2010): Bolin & Eriksson (1957) added.
UPDATE (July 11, 2010): Longinelli et al. (2010) added.
UPDATE (July 1, 2010): Jiang et al. (2010) added.
UPDATE (June 25, 2010): Kulawik et al. (2010) added.
UPDATE (January 22, 2010): Armstrong (1879), de Saussure (1828), and de Saussure (1830) added.
Decadal changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration and δ13C over two seas and two oceans: Italy to New Zealand – Longinelli et al. (2010) “Continuous measurements of the CO2 concentration were repeatedly carried out from 1996 to 2007 between Italy and New Zealand by means of a Siemens Ultramat 5E analyzer assembled for shipboard use. Along the ship routes discrete air samples were collected from 1998 to 2005 using four-litre Pyrex flasks. The δ13C of the CO2 from the flask air samples was measured according to well-established techniques. … The yearly rate of increase of the CO2 concentration between 1996 and 2007 for the Indian Ocean is of about 1.9 ppmv yr-1, in excellent agreement with the NOAA/CMDL measurements carried out during the same period at Mahé Isld. (Indian Ocean) and Cape Grim (Tasmania). The δ13C results obtained from the CO2 of flask samples collected in the Mediterranean show the effect of anthropogenic emissions, though this is considerably smaller than expected. This inconsistency may be related to the large terrestrial biospheric sink of CO2 in the Northern Hemisphere.”
Interannual variability of mid-tropospheric CO2 from Atmospheric Infrared Sounder – Jiang et al. (2010) “In this paper, we use AIRS data to examine the interannual variability of CO2 and find significant correlations between AIRS mid-tropospheric CO2 and large-scale atmospheric dynamics. During El Niño events, mid-tropospheric CO2 over the central Pacific Ocean is enhanced whereas it is reduced over the western Pacific Ocean as a result of the change in the Walker circulation. The variation of AIRS CO2 in the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere is closely related to the strength of the northern hemispheric annular mode.”
Characterization of Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES) CO2 for carbon cycle science – Kulawik et al. (2010) “We present carbon dioxide (CO2) estimates from the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES) on the EOS-Aura satellite launched in 2004. … Comparisons to Mauna Loa data show a correlation of 0.92, a standard deviation of 1.3 ppm, a predicted error of 1.2 ppm, and a ~2% low bias, which is subsequently corrected. Comparisons to SGP aircraft data over land show a correlation of 0.67 and a standard deviation of 2.3 ppm. TES data between 40° S and 45° N for 2006–2007 are compared to surface flask data, GLOBALVIEW, the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS), and CarbonTracker. Comparison to GLOBALVIEW-CO2 ocean surface sites shows a correlation of 0.60 which drops when TES is offset in latitude, longitude, or time. At these same locations, TES shows a 0.62 and 0.67 correlation to CarbonTracker at the surface and 5 km, respectively.” [Full text]
First year of upper tropospheric integrated content of CO2 from IASI hyperspectral infrared observations – Crevoisier et al. (2009) “Simultaneous observations from the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) and from the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU), launched together onboard the European MetOp platform in October 2006, are used to retrieve an upper tropospheric content of carbon dioxide (CO2) covering the range 11–15 km (100–300 hPa), in clear-sky conditions, in the tropics, over sea, for the first year of operation of MetOp (January 2008–December 2008). … Features of the retrieved CO2 space-time distribution include: … (4) signatures of CO2 emissions (such as biomass burning) transported to the troposphere.” [Full text]
A 4-year zonal climatology of lower tropospheric CO2 derived from ocean-only Atmospheric Infrared Sounder observations – Strow & Hannon (2008) “A 4-year zonally averaged climatology of atmospheric CO2, ocean only, between ±60° latitude has been derived from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) radiances. Using only very clear fields of view, the CO2 profile in the computed radiances is scaled until agreement is found with observations. ECMWF forecast and analysis fields are used for the temperature profile in the computed radiances. The AIRS channels used to derive CO2 amounts are nominally sensitive to CO2 variability in the ∼300–800 mbar region (2–9 km), significantly lower in the atmosphere than that in previous studies using AIRS. Validation using aircraft measurements of CO2 at 650 mbar indicates that the AIRS CO2 results presented here are accurate to the 0.5–1.0 ppm level. The AIRS-derived climatology clearly exhibits the CO2 rectifier effect, with mean CO2 values several parts per million lower than in those in the boundary layer. The AIRS CO2 seasonal cycle has a relatively constant amplitude of ∼3 ppm from +10° to +60° latitude, which matches the boundary layer seasonal cycle amplitude near +10° latitude but is about three times smaller than that in the boundary layer amplitude at +60° latitude. Phase comparisons between the AIRS and boundary layer CO2 seasonal cycles show the boundary layer phase leading AIRS in the Northern Hemisphere until ∼+10° latitude, where the phases cross and the AIRS higher-altitude CO2 begins to lead the boundary layer phase down to ∼−10° latitude. These results may offer new insight into CO2 interhemispherical transport. Growth rates derived from the AIRS CO2 climatology are 2.21 ± 0.24 ppm/year, in good agreement with in situ measurements.” Strow, L. L., and S. E. Hannon (2008), A 4-year zonal climatology of lower tropospheric CO2 derived from ocean-only Atmospheric Infrared Sounder observations, J. Geophys. Res., 113, D18302, doi:10.1029/2007JD009713
Assessing the near surface sensitivity of SCIAMACHY atmospheric CO2 retrieved using (FSI) WFM-DOAS – Barkley et al. (2007) “Satellite observations of atmospheric CO2 offer the potential to identify regional carbon surface sources and sinks and to investigate carbon cycle processes. … Furthermore, comparisons to in-situ CO2 observations demonstrate that SCIAMACHY is capable of observing lower tropospheric variability on (at least) monthly timescales. … The SCIAMACHY/MODIS comparison reveals that at many of the sites, the amount of CO2 variability is coincident with the amount of vegetation activity. It is evident, from this analysis, that SCIAMACHY therefore has the potential to detect CO2 variability within the lowermost troposphere arising from the activity of the terrestrial biosphere.” [Full text]
First direct observation of the atmospheric CO2 year-to-year increase from space – Buchwitz et al. (2007) “The reliable prediction of future atmospheric CO2 concentrations and associated global climate change requires an adequate understanding of the CO2 sources and sinks. The sparseness of the existing surface measurement network limits current knowledge about the global distribution of CO2 surface fluxes. The retrieval of CO2 total vertical columns from satellite observations is predicted to improve this situation. Such an application however requires very high accuracy and precision. We report on retrievals of the column-averaged CO2 dry air mole fraction, denoted XCO2, from the near-infrared nadir spectral radiance and solar irradiance measurements of the SCIAMACHY satellite instrument between 2003 and 2005. We focus on northern hemispheric large scale CO2 features such as the CO2 seasonal cycle and show – for the first time – that the atmospheric annual increase of CO2 can be directly observed using satellite measurements of the CO2 total column. The satellite retrievals are compared with global XCO2 obtained from NOAA’s CO2 assimilation system CarbonTracker taking into account the spatio-temporal sampling and altitude sensitivity of the satellite data. We show that the measured CO2 year-to-year increase agrees within about 1 ppm/year with CarbonTracker. We also show that the latitude dependent amplitude of the northern hemispheric CO2 seasonal cycle agrees with CarbonTracker within about 2 ppm with the retrieved amplitude being systematically larger. The analysis demonstrates that it is possible using satellite measurements of the CO2 total column to retrieve information on the atmospheric CO2 on the level of a few parts per million.” Buchwitz, M., Schneising, O., Burrows, J. P., Bovensmann, H., Reuter, M., and Notholt, J.: First direct observation of the atmospheric CO2 year-to-year increase from space, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 7, 4249-4256, doi:10.5194/acp-7-4249-2007, 2007. [Full text, correction]
The role of carbon dioxide in climate forcing from 1979 to 2004: introduction of the Annual Greenhouse Gas Index – Hofmann et al. (2006) “High-precision measurements of CO2, CH4, N2O, CFC-12, CFC-11 (major greenhouse gases) and 10 minor halogenated gases from a globally distributed network of air sampling sites are used to calculate changes in radiative climate forcing since the pre-industrial era (1750) for the period of measurement, 1979–2004. … Of the five major long-lived gases that contribute to radiative climate forcing, CO2 and N2O are the only gases for which the atmospheric concentrations continue to rise. … Most of the increase in the [Annual Greenhouse Gas Index] is related to CO2.” [Full text]
Comparison of SCIAMACHY and AIRS CO2 measurements over North America during the summer and autumn of 2003 – Barkley et al. (2006) “This comparison demonstrates that there is a general consistency between the CO2 distributions retrieved by AIRS and SCIAMACHY, when the different vertical sensitivities of the instruments are taken into account.” [Full text]
First global measurement of midtropospheric CO2 from NOAA polar satellites: Tropical zone – Chédin et al. (2003) “Midtropospheric mean atmospheric CO2 concentration is retrieved from the observations of the NOAA series of polar meteorological satellites, using a nonlinear regression inference scheme. For the 4 years of the present analysis (July 1987 to June 1991), monthly means of the CO2 concentration retrieved over the tropics (20°N to 20°S) from NOAA 10 show very good agreement with what is presently known. Not only the phase of the seasonal variations (location of the peaks) but also their amplitude and their latitudinal evolution match quite well recent in situ observations made by properly equipped commercial airliners measuring in an altitude range similar to the one favored by the satellite observations. Moreover, the annual trend inferred corresponds to the known increase in the concentration of CO2 as a result of human activities. Also, the impact of El Niño-Southern Oscillation events is clearly seen and confirms analyses of in situ or aircraft observations and of model simulations. Forty-eight maps of monthly mean midtropospheric CO2 concentration have been produced at a resolution of 15° × 15°. A rough estimate of the method-induced standard deviation of these retrievals is of the order of 3.6 ppmv (around 1%). The coming analysis of the almost 25 years of archive already accumulated by the NOAA platforms should contribute to a better understanding of the carbon cycle. A simulation of the extension of the method to the next generation high-spectral-resolution instruments, with very encouraging results, is presented.” Chédin, A., S. Serrar, N. A. Scott, C. Crevoisier, and R. Armante (2003), First global measurement of midtropospheric CO2 from NOAA polar satellites: Tropical zone, J. Geophys. Res., 108, 4581, doi:10.1029/2003JD003439. [Conference paper]
A High-Precision Fast-Response Airborne CO2 Analyzer for In Situ Sampling from the Surface to the Middle Stratosphere – Daube et al. (2002) “Two in situ CO2 analyzers have been developed for deployment on the NASA ER-2 aircraft and on stratospheric balloons. … In this paper, the instrumentation and calibration procedures for both instruments are described in detail. An intercomparison of the two instruments during the Photochemistry of Ozone Loss in the Arctic Region In Summer (POLARIS) project showed that, on average, the instruments agreed to within 0.05 ppmv.”
Atmospheric carbon dioxide and its stable isotope ratios, methane, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide and hydrogen from Shetland Isles – Francey et al. (1998) “Since November 1992, 0.5 glass flasks have been filled approximately monthly with dry marine air from Shetland Isles, Scotland (60.2°N, 1.2°W) and transported to CSIRO, Australia for analyses. The Shetland site is part of a CSIRO global flask network with 10-12 sites, anchored to continuous high precision in situ measurements made at the Australian Cape Grim Baseline Station (40.7°S, 144.7°E), a primary station in the Global Atmosphere Watch programme (GAW) coordinated by the World Meteorological Organisation. The methodology is summarised, and Shetland results for CO2, CH4, N2O, CO, H2 and δ13C, δ18O of CO2 presented for the period 1992-1996.”
Increased activity of northern vegetation inferred from atmospheric CO2 measurements – Keeling et al. (1996) “Here we report that the annual amplitude of the seasonal CO2 cycle has increased by 20%, as measured in Hawaii, and by 40% in the Arctic, since the early 1960s. These increases are accompanied by phase advances of about 7 days during the declining phase of the cycle, suggesting a lengthening of the growing season. In addition, the annual amplitudes show maxima which appear to reflect a sensitivity to global warming episodes that peaked in 1981 and 1990. We propose that the amplitude increases reflect increasing assimilation of CO2 by land plants in response to climate changes accompanying recent rapid increases in temperature.”
Evidence from polar ice cores for the increase in atmospheric CO2 in the past two centuries – Neftel et al. (1985) “The most reliable assessment of the ancient atmospheric CO2 concentration is derived from measurements of air occluded in ice cores. An ice core from Siple Station (West Antartica) that allows determination of the enclosed gas concentration with very good time resolution has recently become available. We report here measurements of this core which now allow us to trace the development of the atmospheric CO2 from a period overlapping the Mauna Loa record back over the past two centuries.”
The pre-industrial carbon dioxide level – Wigley (1983) “Recent indirect data and direct measurements from ice cores point towards a ‘pre-industrial’ CO2 level of around 260–270 ppmv, considerably below the commonly assumed value of 290 ppmv. Early measurements from the southern hemisphere tend to favour the lower value.” T. M. L. Wigley, Climatic Change, Volume 5, Number 4 (1983), 315-320, DOI: 10.1007/BF02423528.
The concentration and isotopic abundances of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – Keeling (1960) “A systematic variation with season and latitude in the concentration and isotopic abundance of atmospheric carbon dioxide has been found in the northern hemisphere. In Antarctica, however, a small but persistent increase in concentration has been found.” [Full text]
An Analysis of the Possible Recent Change in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Concentration – Bray (1959) “Criteria minimizing differences in operators, location, and time of observation are established for selecting comparative data on atmospheric CO2 concentration during the past 100 years. The resulting selection showed in all cases the period 1907–1956 to have a higher mean than 1857–1906. The difference between means was not statistically significant for 5 unweighted comparisons. Weighting by estimates of reliability resulted in a significant difference for yearly and summer non-urban values, but not for the other 3 comparisons. Additional comparisons of all values in the study, of six entire distributions, and of five paired studies with closely comparable data showed increases in a more recent period, with one exception. The magnitude of the increase for weighted yearly non-urban data was 25 ppm (from 294 to 319) for the quarters 1857–1881 to 1932–1956. Several possible explanations for the increase include: 1) an actual atmospheric increase, 2) a coincidence of the influence of micro-atmospheres, 3) improvement (or change) in chemical technique.” J. R. Bray, Tellus, Volume 11, Issue 2, pages 220–230, May 1959, DOI: 10.1111/j.2153-3490.1959.tb00023.x. [Full text]
On the Amount of Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere – Callendar (1958) “Of late years there has been much interest in the effect of human activities on the natural circulation of carbon. This demands a knowledge of the amount of CO2 in atmosphere both now and in the immediate past. Here the average amount obtained by 30 of the most extensive series of observations between 1866 and 1956 is presented, and the reliability of the 19th century measurements discussed. A base value of 290 p.p.m. is proposed for the year 1900. Since then the observations show a rising trend which is similar in amount to the addition from fuel combustion. This result is not in accordance with recent radio carbon data, but the reasons for the discrepancy are obscure, and it is concluded that much further observational data is required to clarify this problem. Some old values, showing a remarkable fall of CO2 in high southern latitudes, are assembled for comparison with the anticipated new measurements, to be taken in this zone during the Geophysical Year.” G. S. Callendar, Tellus, Volume 10, Issue 2, pages 243–248, May 1958, DOI: 10.1111/j.2153-3490.1958.tb02009.x. [Full text]
Changes in the Carbon Dioxide Content of the Atmosphere and Sea due to Fossil Fuel Combustion – Bolin & Eriksson (1957) “This problem warrants further investigation, but already the present treatment indicates that an appreaciable increase of the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere may have occurred since last century. This increase will continue and should be detectable with present techniques for measuring CO2 in the atmosphere within a few years in areas with little or no local pollution due to fossil fuel combustion as in the Antarctica or on Hawaii.” [Full text]
Variations in concentration and isotopic abundances of atmospheric carbon dioxide – Keeling (1957) “In the study now to be described, attention was directed to a study of air in virgin forests and in grassland where the air was likely to be affected by biological processes, and at desert and high mountain stations where local sources or acceptors of carbon dioxide being absent, the composition of the air should be essentially that of free atmosphere.” [Full text]
Carbon Dioxide Variations in the Atmosphere – Fonselius et al. (1956) “The Scandinavian CO2-sampling in 1955 is described. The mean results for the calendar year are given. Earlier CO2-measurements are discussed and a figure showing most of these values is given. The theory of Callendar is discussed and the Scandinavian values are compared with Callendar’s. The seasonal variations at the Scandinavian stations are compared and the results discussed. The possibility of drawing synoptic maps is discussed and one example is shown. The desirability of systematic CO2-measurements on a global scale is emphasized.” Stig Fonselius, Folke Koroleff, Karl-Erik Wärme, Tellus, Volume 8, Issue 2, pages 176–183, May 1956, DOI: 10.1111/j.2153-3490.1956.tb01208.x. [Full text]
Microdetermination of CO2 in the Air, with Current Data for Scandinavia – Fonselius & Koroleff (1955) “Krogh and Brandt Rehbergs method for estimation of CO2 in atmospheric air has been investigated and modified. The method is used for continous investigation of the CO2 content of the air in Scandinavia. A permanent net of sampling stations has been established, 6 in Sweden, 4 in Finland, 3 in Norway and 2 in Denmark. The samples are taken three times each month. A simple method of taking air samples is described. Current data for November, December 1954 and January 1955 are published.” Stig Fonselius, Folke Koroleff, Tellus, Volume 7, Issue 2, pages 258–265, May 1955, DOI: 10.1111/j.2153-3490.1955.tb01160.x. [Full text]
Has the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere changed significantly since the beginning of the twentieth century? – Slocum (1955) “The search for causes of the rising temperatures in some geographic areas during the twentieth century has directed interest toward the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). If the carbon dioxide added by the combustion of fossil fuels remains as a net increase, any temperature-changing effects of its presence as a minor constituent of the atmosphere should be cumulatively operative as the amount increases. In this paper, the physical knowledge of atmospheric CO2 is examined and the available nineteenth and twentieth century observations of the atmospheric CO2 concentration are summarized to ascertain the extent to which they corroborate claims that the amount of atmospheric CO2 has increased since the nineteenth century. In the light of the uncertainty of both physical knowledge and of statistical analysis, it is concluded that the question of a trend in atmospheric CO2 concentration remains an open subject.” Giles Slocum, Mon. Wea. Rev., 83, 225–231. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/1520-0493(1955)0832.0.CO;2. [Full text]
A selective annotated bibliography of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – Stepanova (1952) Stepanova, N. A., 1952, Meteor. Abs. Bibl. 3, pp. 137-170.
The composition of atmospheric air – Glueckauf (1951) No abstract. Glueckauf, E., 1951, The composition of atmospheric air. Compendium of Meteorology, Amer. Meteorol. Soc., Boston, pp. 3-10. [Full text available in abstract page]
Messmethoden zur Bestimmung des CO2-Gehaltes der Atmosphare und die Bedeutung derartiger Messungen fur die Bioklimatologie und Meteorologie (2. Teil) – Effenberger (1951) No abstract available online. Effenberger, E., Ann. der Meteorologie 4. 1o/12, p. 417.
Der Kohlendioxydgehalt der Luft als Indikator der meteorologischen Luftqualität – Buch (1948) No abstract available online. Kurt Buch, Geophysica, vol. 3, 1948, pp. 63-79.
Variations of the amount of carbon dioxide in different air currents – Callendar (1940) “The first measurements to determine the composition of the atmosphere were made at least 180 years ago, but chemists worked more than a century before they obtained really accurate values for the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. In the following: a brief review is given of the present state of knowledge concerning the variations of atmospheric carbon dioxide, together with some observations which appear to show that the amount of this gas in the air has increased of late years.” G. S. Callendar, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, Volume 66, Issue 287, pages 395–400, October 1940, DOI: 10.1002/qj.49706628705.
Kohlensaure in Atmosphare und Meer an der Grenze zum Arktikum – Buch (1939) No abstract available online. Buch, K., 1939, Acta Acad. Aboensis, Mat. et Phys. XI, 12.
Beobachtungen uber das Kohlensauregleichgewicht und uber den Kohlensaureaustausch zwischen Atmosphare und Meer im Nordatlantischen Ozean – Buch (1939) No abstract available online. Buch, K., 1939, Ibid., XI, 9.
The Constancy of the Atmosphere with Respect to Carbon Dioxide and Oxygen Content – Carpenter (1937) No abstract. Thorne M. Carpenter, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 1937, 59 (2), pp 358–360, DOI: 10.1021/ja01281a040.
Carbon Dioxide Content of Atmospheric Air – Haldane (1936) “DURING the last nine months of his life my father, Prof. J. S. Haldane, was engaged, in collaboration with Dr. R. H. Makgill, in the systematic analysis of atmospheric air. Owing to his death and the absence of Dr. Makgill in New Zealand, some time may elapse before the full results of their work are published. But certain of them are of enough general interest to warrant a preliminary note.” J. B. S. Haldane, Nature 137, 575 (4 April 1936) | doi:10.1038/137575a0.
Beobachtungen über chemische Faktoren in der Nordsee, zwischen Nordsee und Island, sowie auf dem Schelfgebiete nordlich von Island – Buch (1934) No abstract available online. Buch, K., Conseil perm. intern. p. l’exploration de la mer. Rapp. et proc. verb., 89, 13.
CO2-Bestimmungen in der Atmospharischen Luft durch Mikrotitration – Krogh & Brandt (1929) No abstract available online. Krogh, A., und Brandt, Rehberg, P., 1929, Biochemische Zeifschr. 205, 265.
The composition of the atmosphere with special reference to its oxygen content – Benedict (1912) No abstract. Benedict, F. G., 1929, Washington D.C. Carnegie Inst. [Full text available in abstract page]
On the Variations in the Amount of Carbon Dioxide in the Air of Kew during the Years 1898-1901 – Brown & Escombe (1905) “As part of the routine work connected with our investigation of the processes of photosynthesis in plants, an account of which has been given in a previous series of papers, it became necessary from time to time to make a large number of determinations of the amount of carbon dioxide present in the air. … The average value for the 91 experiments recorded is 294 volumes of carbon dioxide per 10,000 of air.”
On the Diurnal Variation in the Amount of Carbon Dioxide in the Air – Armstrong (1879) “Although a large share of attention has been given to the elucidation of the causes which influence the amount of carbonic acid present in the atmosphere during the day, no systematic observations with reference to the relative quantities present in the air of the land during the day and the night appear to have been undertaken since the well-known experiments of the younger De Saussure at Chambeisy, upwards of 50 years ago (1826-30), and a similar set by Boussingault at Paris, a few years later, until M. Truchot took up the question in 1873. But the results thus obtained cannot be said to be altogether satisfactory.” Apparently, in this paper Armstrong was able to show that there was a daily variation in carbon dioxide concentration.
Ueber die Schwankungen des Kohlensäure-Gehalts der Atmosphäre – de Saussure (1830) The title translates to “On the fluctuations of the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere”.
Ueber das Kohlensäure- Gas in der Atmosphäre – de Saussure (1828) The title translates to “About the carbonic acid gas in the atmosphere”.
Some of the papers in the list Papers on changes in OLR due to GHG’s are also relevant here.