Models, Models, Models…

  • Richard L. Scheaffer
  • Ann Watkins
  • Mrudulla Gnanadesikan
  • Jeffrey A. Witmer
Part of the Textbooks in mathematical sciences book series (TIMS)


When looking at relationships between two quantities, we are often interested in fitting a mathematical function to describe this relationship. Statisticians call these functions models. This activity uses data on levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at a site in Hawaii to illustrate fitting a model to data. Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is one of the gases in the environment whose levels have been increasing. Why should this be of great interest? It is so because scientists are concerned that in creasing levels of complex gases, one of which is CO2, will thicken the blanket around the Earth and prevent heat from escaping. This could result in “global warming,” which could lead to disastrous coastal flooding and severe droughts. These data have been used by scientists in studies involving levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. Reasons for the choice of the site, and additional information regarding the data, are shown after the activity. The patterns observed in this data can be considered to be typical of what could be observed globally.


Scatter Plot Residual Plot American Petroleum Institute Complete Time Period Propriate Software 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 1.
    Atmospheric CO2 concentrations-Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii, 1958–1986, C. D. Keeling, Scripps Institution of Oceanography. CDIAC NDP-001/R1 (rev. 1986).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Basic Petroleum Data Book. Petroleum Industry Statistics, Volume XIV, Number 1, January 1994, American Petroleum Institute, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard L. Scheaffer
    • 1
  • Ann Watkins
    • 2
  • Mrudulla Gnanadesikan
    • 3
  • Jeffrey A. Witmer
    • 4
  1. 1.University of FloridaUSA
  2. 2.California State UniversityNorthridgeUSA
  3. 3.Fairleigh Dickinson UniversityUSA
  4. 4.Oberlin CollegeUSA

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