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Sensing & Measurement

A scientist, his work and a climate reckoning

New York Times
22 December 2010

Perhaps the biggest reason the world learned of the risk of global warming was the unusual personality of a single American scientist.

The essence of Dr. Charles Keeling's scientific legacy was his passion for doing things in a meticulous way. It explains why, even as challengers try to pick apart every other aspect of climate science, his half-century record of carbon dioxide measurements stands unchallenged.

The Keeling curve shows a rising trend of CO2As a young researcher, Keeling built instruments and developed techniques that allowed him to achieve great precision in making such measurements.

By the late 1960s, a decade after Keeling began his measurements, the trend of rising carbon dioxide was undeniable, and scientists began to warn of the potential for a big increase in the temperature of the earth.

Full story from the New York Times

--An article in the January 2011 issue of SPIE Professional, the SPIE Member magazine, will also cover this topic and efforts by the lidar community to pioneer a suite of techniques to monitor greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere. Note: An SPIE Member login will be required to read the full text of the article, to be published 30 December 2010.