What is the fate of CO2 produced by fossil fuel combustion?

Students consider why the observed atmospheric CO2 increase rate is only ~60% of the CO2 loading rate due to fossil fuel combustion. They develop a box-model to simulate the atmospheric CO2 increase during the industrial era and compare it to the historic observations of atmospheric CO2 concentrations. The model is then used to forecast future concentrations of atmospheric CO2 during the next century.

Go To:

Paul Quay
University of Washington. This activity is hosted by the Science Education Resource Center (SERC) at Carleton College
Activity takes 1 to 2 weeks depending on other class responsibilities. Computer with Excel software required.

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Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips

The instructions are thorough and complete. Students should be able to complete the exercise mostly on their own.

Student handout should be sufficient for instructors to develop an answer key.

Instructors can use Excel or Matlab, but students should have some background in whichever program they use.

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