satellite view from PMNM
E komo mai; welcome! Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is surrounded by a lei of foam in the middle of the North Pacific; it's a beautiful, special place.

Not only are there albatross on Midway, but many other interesting kinds of wildlife, both on the land and in the sea. Please enjoy exploring FOAM, an educational blog actively done while on Midway from May through August 2010. Posts are added from off-Midway, as information becomes available. If you're interested in a particular topic, please use the search box or the alphabetical list of "labels" along the left side of the blog page.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Carbon Dioxide and Global Warming

The dotted black line shows carbon dioxide increasing.
Breathe in; now breathe out.

When you exhale, your breath has more carbon dioxide in it than the air you breathed in.  That's because your body makes carbon dioxide as it burns the food you eat to operate your body.  Carbon dioxide is a waste product.  Your body gets rid of it with each outgoing breath.

Carbon dioxide is building up in the Earth's air.  Although some of it comes from your breathing, most of it comes from the burning of fossil fuels, like gasoline in cars and oil in electric power stations.  Carbon dioxide is the most important gas causing the problem of global warming.

This map shows the places where NOAA collects air samples.  
FOAM's July 25 post entitled "Is the Sea Level Rising?" talked about global warming.  The Earth is predicted to warm to the point where lots of ice in glaciers and ice fields will melt, causing the sea level to rise.  If the sea level rises enough, it could flood coastal cities, like Honolulu, New York, San Franciso, and many others around the world!  We need to stop global warming!  To do that we need to know how much carbon dioxide is in the air.

What does all this have to do with Midway Atoll?  The Atoll is on this map; it's the red dot in the center of the North Pacific Ocean.  Midway is part of a world-wide network to measure how much carbon dioxide is in the Earth's air.  Every week US Fish and Wildlife Biological Technician Greg Schubert takes a sample of Midway's air.  Then he sends it to the federal government agency called NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and they measure the carbon dioxide (and methane and other gases) in Midway's air sample.

Greg is setting up the equipment on Midway Atoll.  The air will go in the opening of the white tube at the top of the pole.  Then it will be pumped through both of the blue tanks. 

During collection, Greg is far away because he doesn't want the carbon dioxide he's exhaling to go into the blue tanks.  (The albatross doesn't put out much carbon dioxide!)

When he's done with the field collection, Greg writes down the information, such as pressure and flow rate, in his field notebook.  Later he transfers the information to the official NOAA data sheet that he will mail with the blue tanks.  Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is helping to solve the problem of global warming!

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