Estimating Pre-Industrial Carbon Mass in Atmosphere: GTC Calculation

• bbowers
In summary, using the given information, the total mass of carbon in the pre-industrial atmosphere with 280 ppm CO2 is estimated to be 1.16x10^-4 billion metric tons (GTC). This is calculated by converting the total mass of Earth's atmosphere to kg moles of air, then determining the kg moles of CO2 and finally converting it to billion metric tons.
bbowers

Homework Statement

Estimate the total mass of carbon (in billion metric tons, GTC) in the pre-industrial atmosphere with 280 ppm CO2.

Total mass of Earth's atmosphere = 5.4x10^18 kg

Homework Equations

1 GTC = 3.67 GTCO2

1 ppm = 44 AMU/ 26x10^6 AMU

The Attempt at a Solution

44 AMU/29x10^-6 AMU = 1 ppm CO2 = 1.52x10^-6

(1.52x10^-6)(280) = 4.26x10^-4

4.26x10^4 / 3.67 = 1.16x10^-4

Hi Bbowers. Welcome to Physics Forums!

Based on the total mass of the Earth's atmosphere, how many kg moles air are there (assuming that the average molecular mass of air is 29)? If there are 280 kg moles of CO2 per million kg moles of air, how many kg moles of CO2 are there? If the molecular mass of CO2 is 44, how many kg of CO2 are there? How many billion kg?

Chet

1. What is the purpose of estimating pre-industrial carbon mass in the atmosphere?

The purpose of estimating pre-industrial carbon mass in the atmosphere is to gain a better understanding of the natural baseline levels of carbon in the atmosphere before human activities began significantly impacting the Earth's carbon cycle. This can help inform our understanding of the current and future effects of human-caused carbon emissions on the Earth's climate.

2. How is pre-industrial carbon mass estimated in the atmosphere?

Pre-industrial carbon mass in the atmosphere is estimated through a calculation called the GTC (Gigatonnes of Carbon) calculation. This calculation takes into account various data on historical carbon emissions, land use changes, and carbon sinks to estimate the amount of carbon that would have been in the Earth's atmosphere if there had been no human interference.

3. What data is needed for the GTC calculation?

The data needed for the GTC calculation includes historical records of human activities that release or absorb carbon, such as fossil fuel burning and deforestation, as well as data on natural processes that impact the Earth's carbon cycle, such as volcanic eruptions and oceanic absorption of carbon. This data is then used to create a model that estimates pre-industrial carbon mass in the atmosphere.

4. What are the limitations of estimating pre-industrial carbon mass?

Estimating pre-industrial carbon mass in the atmosphere is a complex process that relies on various data and assumptions. As such, there are limitations to the accuracy of the estimates. Some factors that can impact the accuracy of the estimates include incomplete or inaccurate data, uncertainties in historical records, and the dynamic nature of the Earth's carbon cycle.

5. How can estimating pre-industrial carbon mass inform climate change research?

Estimating pre-industrial carbon mass can provide a baseline for understanding the natural levels of carbon in the atmosphere and how they have been impacted by human activities. This information can then be used to inform climate change research and help predict the future effects of human-caused carbon emissions on the Earth's climate. It can also aid in developing strategies for reducing and mitigating the effects of climate change.

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