The top of Mauna Kea is dotted with telescopes, but Mauna Loa’s summit is bare save for some small pieces of equipment monitoring the volcano’s seismic activity and small changes in inflation and deflation.
However, just above the 11,000 foot level on Mauna Loa’s northern slope is the Mauna Loa Observatory. The observatory is operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Earth System Research Laboratory – Global Monitoring Division.
Since 1958, the observatory has been monitoring changes in the atmosphere and in particular, levels of carbon dioxide, one of the leading contributors to global warming. It’s the world’s oldest continuous carbon dioxide monitoring station, which is ironic given that it’s situated in one of the few countries on Earth not subject to global warming (and if you’re wondering how that works, all you have to do is go to the beach, stick your head in the sand and, voila, no more global warming.).
In the top photo, the two domes on the left house solar sensors operated by the Mauna Loa Solar Observatory which shares the site. The bottom photo shows the observatory under a near full moon. And in the middle is a view back down the road to the observatory, an up and down, winding one-lane road, which is one of my favorite drives on the island.
For more information on the Mauna Loa Observatory, go to https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/obop/mlo/.