Yellowstone Biomass Burning Activity
How much CO2 was released to the atmosphere from the 1988 Yellowstone fires?

Step 1 To arrive at an approximate answer to this question, students need to determine

  • Number of moles of air in the atmosphere = 3.23x1020 moles
  • Moles of carbon from the fire = 3.33 x 1010 moles of C
    ( see Finding Carbon Released )

Step 2 To find the approximate number of moles of air, students need to determine

Image of a chalkboard diagram that has a formula to find the approximate number of moles of air.  Please have someone assist you with this.

Using the results of Steps (1) and (2) above, students can calculate the approximate amount of CO2 ppm from the Yellowstone fires.

moles of carbon from the fire 3.33 x 1010 moles
moles of air in the atmosphere 1.98 x1020 moles
times parts per million 106 ppm

Image of a chalkboard diagram that has a formula to find the approximate amount of CO2 parts per million from the Yellowstone fires.  Please have someone assist you with this.

Activity Extension
Plot a graph showing density vs. altitude.
You may want to ask

1. How much air is within 500 meters of the earth's surface?
2. How fast does density drop?

HTML code by Chris Kreger
Maintained by ETE Team
Last updated April 28, 2005

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