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Using Introductory Calculus (Integration) to Analyze CO2 Emission Data

Classroom/Laboratory Activity

A classroom/laboratory activity to analyze CO2 emissions data by using Riemann sums for the calculation of area under the curve.

Students will use calculus and compare CO2 emissions for the U.S. and China, based on emission and population data for the period 1980-2015. They will use Riemann sums to calculate the area under the curve. They will also create a proposal for emission reduction by considering past and current CO2 emissions for the two countries.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. Calculate the total CO2 emissions for China from 1980 to 2015 (data records provided in the activity) by using left Riemann sum and right Riemann sum. Compare the two values obtained.
  2. Using Riemann sums, compare the total CO2 emissions (data records provided in the activity) for the U.S. and China from 1980 to 2015
  3. What are the possible effects of these CO2 emissions on the Earth’s climate?
About Tool
Tool Name US and China CO2 Emissions
Discipline Mathematics and Statistics  
Topic(s) in Discipline Calculus, Integration, Riemann Sums, Area Under Curve 
Climate Topic Climate Economics 
Type of tool Classroom/Laboratory Activity 
Grade Level High School, Undergraduate
Location Global
Language English
Translation      –
Developed by Thomas J. Pfaff, Ithaca College 
Hosted at Sustainability Math
Access Online/Offline
Computer Skills Basic


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