163 School Based CO2 Monitoring System

Monday, 7 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Jeffrey A. Yuhas, Morristown-Beard School, Morristown, NJ; and C. Sloop and P. Bailey-Wells

Earth Networks and Concord-Carlisle (MA) High School are working together to develop a CO2 monitor component for the Earth Networks' WeatherBug Schools Program. The monitor at CCHS is the first of what could be many in this new branch of the Earth Networks system. CCHS is focused on helping to develop K-12 education applications for the monitor.

The carbon cycle is one of the most important natural cycles on Earth. Each year, billions of tons of carbon dioxide are cycled between the atmosphere, the hydrosphere and the geosphere. Human activities also contribute to the amount of carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere. In order to understand the carbon cycle and the impact of human activities, it is important to take many measurements. Earth Networks is deploying a world-wide network of 100 cavity ring-down instruments to measure carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere. In addition, Earth Networks is working with schools to provide additional low cost measurements and to promote the understanding of the carbon cycle.

Just as Earth Networks recognized and met the demand for real-time, localized weather information, the company is now fulfilling the need for precise atmospheric data by deploying a network of environmental instruments on a large scale. Earth Networks has deployed more than 10,000 professional-grade, state-of-the-art weather stations that provide comprehensive weather information, integrated with weather data from global sources, to deliver precise, accurate weather information directly to users around the world. Earth Networks Weather Stations record more than 20 weather variables and provide updated weather information to the network every few seconds.

A prototype was installed at CCHS during the summer of 2012. This system was based in the CCTV studio, the local access television station. This location was chosen since it was continuously used over the summer. In the fall, the monitor system was moved into the classroom where both indoor and outdoor CO2 studies were performed. Earth science and meteorology class students have access to the monitor on a daily basis, along with members of Concord-Carlisle Weather Services (CCWS).

The monitoring system is comprised of a PC, a pump, and a Licor LI-840A CO2/H20 Analyzer unit. The Licor Analyzer has a wide measurement range of 0-20,000 ppm for CO2 and 0-60 mmol/mol for H2O. The system uses intake tubing to sample both indoor or outdoor CO2 levels.

Through the School WeatherNet, Earth Networks has a strong educational component. WeatherBug Achieve integrates science, math, geography, technology and more to improve student achievement using the live weather data from your school's very own WeatherBug Weather Station or from any of the other 8,000+ schools in the WeatherBug Schools® Network.

This is an exciting opportunity for students. As with the weather station monitors, students will have access to both their own local data and the global network. This leads to the following educational opportunities for the students:

1. Hands on access to monitoring instrumentation

2. Collaboration across multiple stations

3. Understanding of the carbon cycle

Studies will be preformed by earth science and meteorology students. Data can also be used by chemistry, biology, and even social studies students looking at the policies around climate change. The monitoring network gives the potential to explore regional and temporal variations in CO2 levels. While the primary purpose of the system is to look at outside CO2 levels, it can be switched over to see how CO2 levels change in the classroom over the course of the day, based on temperature and classroom usage.

The students of CCHS will also be presenting results of their first studies using the CO2 monitor during the Student Conference.

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