CO2_Live | EISF 2016

CO2_Live is a new collaborative work by Daniel Budinov, Patrick Hickey, James Howie, Jim Jack, Ryan Lewis, Adam Linson and Iain Robinson. It incorporates a Carbon Dioxide sensor, situated next to the street, connected to LED panels displaying the real time CO2 levels at the top floor of Summerhall’s TechCube.

CO2 occurs naturally in the environment, but humans, particularly since the industrial revolution, have caused atmospheric levels to increase rapidly above naturally occurring levels. This has an impact upon the climate because CO2 is a greenhouse gas, a gas that causes a warming effect on the earth. CO2, Carbon Dioxide is part of common language, however, it is not always well understood.

CO2_Live presents carbon dioxide levels as a digital time display, by showing the levels instead of the the time, viewers are suggested to consider CO2 and what the changing levels might mean. The display ties in with a road sign at street level depicting the Global Carbon Cycle. Data collected from CO2_Live will be made available online for people to explore.

This project was made possible by the generous support of the Natural Environment Research Council project GAUGE (Greenhouse gAs UK and Global Emissions), via Prof. Paul Palmer of the School of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh (


Contributor Biographies

Patrick: Patrick completed a PhD on the cell biology of living fungi in 2001, and specialises in a diverse range of disciplines including biology, electronics and art.  Projects include consulting for TV and film, novel LED lighting systems, art installations and guerrilla marketing projects including a bacterial/mould billboard for the movie “Contagion”. Patrick is responsible for the LED display element of CO2_Live.

Ryan: Ryan is an illustrator and animator specialising in scientific communication. Ryan’s background as a PhD and scientific researcher in many different topics from biology to physics allows him to easily understand a researchers’ scientific achievements and directly discuss what is needed to make videos, infographics and figures engaging, informative and fun.

Iain: Iain designed parts of the hardware and software to connect up. operate and calibrate the CO2 sensors. He also enjoys working with lasers, especially for measuring the environment. He previously worked in the School of Geosciences at the University of Edinburgh and is currently at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire.

Daniel: Daniel is an electrical engineer who enjoys working on a variety of engineering applications. His involvement in this project is designing and assembling the CO2 sensor data acquisition box. He is also part of the team building a Differential Absorption Lidar for CO2 profile measurements in the lower atmosphere, based in the School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh.

James: James is the Managing Director of Edinburgh-based non-profit organisation ASCUS Art & Science. He co-founded ASCUS during his environmental science PhD at the University of Edinburgh where his research involved estimating UK greenhouse gas emissions. James is responsible for overall concept and project management of CO2_Live.

Adam: Adam is responsible for the technical integration of the installation’s components. Based at the University of Edinburgh, his research spans a range of topics in philosophy, cognitive science, AI/robotics, and music psychology. As a musician, he can be heard on several critically acclaimed albums, often with the interactive computer systems he designs and develops.

Jim: Responsible for the project to design and build a number of small low cost CO2 sensors and their evaluation in the local city environment.  Also leading the team bulding a long range Differential Absorption Lidar to measure CO2 concentration profiles in the lower atmosphere.

GAUGE: Greenhouse gAs Uk and Global Emissions

The main focus of GAUGE is to quantify the UK GHG budget in order to underpin the development of effective emission reduction policies. The UK GHG budget will be put into a global context by providing extended analyses on European and global scales.

GAUGE addresses this objective by integrating inter- calibrated information from ground-based, airborne, ferry-borne, balloon-borne, and space-borne sensors, including new sensor technology, allowing us to lay the foundations of a new measurement infrastructure that will deliver beyond GAUGE.

GAUGE is led by the University of Edinburgh and consists of researchers from the Universities of Bristol, Leicester, Leeds, Manchester, and Cambridge, the UK Met Office, NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

Please click here to visit the GAUGE website.