The Keeling Curve with measurements through June 10. Courtesy Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Pioneering work by a scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography was designated a national historic landmark at a ceremony Friday.

The American Chemical Society designated the Keeling Curve — a long-term record of rising carbon dioxide in the planet’s atmosphere — as a National Historic Chemical Landmark.

In March 1958, Charles David Keeling began taking measurements of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory. The systematic measurements Keeling started have become the most widely recognized record of mankind’s impact on the earth’s atmosphere.

Charles Keeling receives the National Science Medal from President Bush in 2001. National Science Foundation photo

A plaque was unveiled Friday at Ritter Hall on the Scripps campus, the site of Keeling’s lab, where the current Scripps CO2 Group operations continue today under the direction of Keeling’s son, Ralph.

“This plaque is a great tribute to all the people who worked tirelessly over the years to sustain these detailed measurements,” said Ralph Keeling.

“The Mauna Loa CO2 record changed how we view the world. It proved for the first time that humans were altering the composition of air globally, and it thereby legitimized the concern over human-caused climate change.”

A similar plaque was unveiled April 30 at the Mauna Loa Observatory.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.