A Student-Industry CO2 Monitoring Collaboration

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Monday, 3 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Jeffrey A. Yuhas, Morristown-Beard School, Morristown, NJ; and P. C. Fisher and C. Sloop

Earth Networks, Li-COR, and the Morristown-Beard School (MBS) are working together to develop a CO2 monitor component for the Earth Networks' WeatherBug Schools Program. The monitor at MBS continues work begun at Concord-Carlisle (MA) High School during the 2012-2013 academic year and is expanded to address indoor and outdoor CO2 initiatives at the Morristown-Beard School, develop a direct link to the Earth Networks central office, and train students in the calibration of the instrument.

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.

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 SchoolsŪ 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 performed by geoscience students and members of the sustainability club. 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.

Work will support a carbon audit that is taking place on the MBS campus. This is a highlighted goal/requirement of their current strategic plan. Data will be shared within the MBS community in the following ways:

1. Use Python to integrate the CO2 monitor with the weather station data for live update on the MBS web site. 2. Develop an iPad app for accessing the same information - MBS has an iOS development course and there are several students who will take this on as a project.