Open Lecture: Atmospheric Signatures of Changing Global Biogeochemistry

Wednesday - February 4, 2015

4:00 PM
Sharp Lecture Hall - Arms Building
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125

Lecture Map

Lecture Flyer

Ralph Keeling

Program Director of the Scripps CO2 Program
Scripps Institution of Oceanography

No registration is required for this lecture. Seating is limited and is available on a first come, first served basis.


We are now a century or more into the "large-scale geophysical experiment" of rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. As this experiment slowly plays out, a major need is to track changes in land and ocean ecosystems which are impacted both by changes in physical climate and chemical climate (e.g. changing CO2 levels). One surprise is that land ecosystems seem to be acting as a sink for a significant fraction the excess carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning. The world's forests have evidently been thrown out of steady state by a range of processes and are accumulating carbon unusually. In contrast, there is little evidence that marine ecosystems - at least those remote from coastal influences - have undergone such large changes. But it could be that we simply lack adequate observations of marine ecosystems. This talk will highlight progress toward resolving changes in both land and ocean ecosystems via measurements of atmospheric CO2 and O2.

Speaker Biography:

Ralph F. Keeling is a professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He is the Principal Investigator for the Atmospheric Oxygen Research Group at Scripps and is the director of the Scripps CO2 Program, the measurement program behind the Keeling curve started by his father Charles David Keeling in 1958. He received a B.S. in physics from Yale University in 1979 and a Ph.D. in applied physics from Harvard University in 1988 for developing the first technique to accurately measure atmospheric oxygen. His research interests include measurements of variations in atmospheric oxygen, recent perturbations to the global carbon cycle, air-sea gas exchange, detection of ocean heat storage and transport using atmospheric gases, and paleoclimate theory.

Professor Keeling received the Rosenstiel Award in 1992, was an H. Burr Steinbach Visiting Scholar at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 1998, and received the Humboldt Research Award in 2009 in recognition of his career achievements.