Old diving tank air extends CSIRO Air Archive

Mar 03, 2010

Atmospheric scientists believe air contained in disused dive tanks can potentially extend what is already the longest record of greenhouse gases in the Southern Hemisphere.

Their serendipitous finding emerged after a Melbourne recreational diver contacted CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research (CMAR) Laboratories at Aspendale offering a very old air sample contained in a long-disused SCUBA compressed air tank.

Now, the scientists are ready to start a search for SCUBA tanks or other compressed air tanks filled before 1970.

"Our record from Cape Grim in Tasmania presently extends back to 1978, but this finding has taken it back to at least 1970 for some greenhouse gases," says Dr Paul Fraser, who leads the research team for CSIRO.

CSIRO and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology maintain an air archive consisting of clean air sampled directly from the atmosphere at the baseline station at Cape Grim Tasmania, commencing in 1978, that is the oldest and most extensive in the world.

Funded and managed by the Bureau, the Cape Grim Station detects atmospheric changes as part of a scientific research program jointly supervised by CMAR and the Bureau. Extensive data are collected for studies of sources and sinks of greenhouse and ozone-depleting gases. The data are used in assessments of past and likely future .

According to the diving diary of the SCUBA tank's owner, Mr J. Allport of Beaumaris, the tank was last filled in 1968 and last used in 1970. A diving service company in Melbourne's CBD filled the tank and it therefore contains ambient air from the city precinct.

Analysis of the air sample using a range of detectors has generated new trace gas data on; propellants, refrigerants and aluminium smelter emissions (HFCS and PFCs), present in the global background atmosphere of 1968, but not widely used in Melbourne at that time.

"If tanks were filled in a clean coastal environment their usefulness in measuring greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and chloro-flurocarbons (CFCs) is much broader," Dr Fraser said.

Explore further: Weird weather lingers in Alaska's largest city

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Causes of methane growth revealed

Sep 09, 2005

Following an international study into how methane levels in the atmosphere have evolved during the past 2000 years, atmospheric scientists have a new insight on methane, one of the world's most influential greenhouse gases.

Two 'new' greenhouse gases growing

Mar 24, 2009

Two new greenhouse gases are accumulating in the atmosphere, according to an international research team led by scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the US and CSIRO scientist, Dr Paul Fraser, from the ...

Aerosols -- their part in our rainfall

Feb 12, 2009

Aerosols may have a greater impact on patterns of Australian rainfall and future climate change than previously thought, according to leading atmospheric scientist, CSIRO's Dr. Leon Rotstayn.

Destruction of greenhouse gases over tropical Atlantic

Jun 25, 2008

Large amounts of ozone – around 50% more than predicted by the world's state-of-the-art climate models – are being destroyed in the lower atmosphere over the tropical Atlantic Ocean. Published today (26th ...

EPA finds greenhouse gases pose a danger to health

Apr 17, 2009

(AP) -- The Environmental Protection Agency concluded Friday that greenhouse gases linked to climate change "endanger public health and welfare," setting the stage for regulating them under federal clean air laws.

Recommended for you

New challenges for ocean acidification research

8 hours ago

Over the past decade, ocean acidification has received growing recognition not only in the scientific area. Decision-makers, stakeholders, and the general public are becoming increasingly aware of "the other carbon dioxide ...

Compromises lead to climate change deal

8 hours ago

Earlier this month, delegates from the various states that make up the UN met in Lima, Peru, to agree on a framework for the Climate Change Conference that is scheduled to take place in Paris next year. For ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

deatopmg
1 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2010
Great concept, but the possibility of the air samples being contaminated w/ CO, CO2, NOx, SOx, etc. are high if the cylinders were filled on ship or near IC engine driven compressors or other IC engines. How will they control for these potential anomalies?
jamey
not rated yet Mar 03, 2010
@deatopmg - What about other reactions within the cylinder? Given 40 years, even the least reactive iron alloys will oxidize *some*. And the species you mention are often fairly reactive, themselves. I'm always leary of accelerated exposure information, anyway - I can handle 30% of my body being exposed to water for several days - but 100% of my body for a few minutes just isn't the same.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.