` CO2 Levels in Atmosphere Rise for Seventh Consecutive Year

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CO2 Levels in Atmosphere Rise for Seventh Consecutive Year

Jun. 20, 2019
By Isabel Putinja

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New data reveals that the con­cen­tra­tion of car­bon diox­ide in the atmos­phere rose to record lev­els dur­ing the month of May.

Accord­ing to read­ings released on June 4, 2019 by the Mauna Loa Obser­va­tory in Hawaii, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmos­pheric Admin­is­tra­tion (NOAA) and Scripps Insti­tu­tion of Oceanog­ra­phy at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, San Diego, car­bon diox­ide lev­els aver­aged 414.7 parts per mil­lion (ppm) in May 2019. This is 3.5 ppm higher than the amount mea­sured at the same time last year.

This is the sev­enth con­sec­u­tive year that car­bon diox­ide lev­els have increased. This year’s lev­els also rep­re­sent the high­est sea­sonal peak recorded and the sec­ond high­est annual rise in the past 60 years.

In the past decade, ris­ing car­bon diox­ide lev­els have been reach­ing an aver­age annual growth rate of 2.2 ppm com­pared to 1.5 ppm in the 1990s. More recently, this fig­ure has climbed even higher and faster.

See more: Cli­mate Change News

Car­bon diox­ide lev­els have been mon­i­tored since 1958 at the Mauna Loa Obser­va­tory, located in the Pacific Ocean on top of Hawai­i’s biggest vol­cano.


It is crit­i­cally impor­tant to have these accu­rate long-term mea­sure­ments of CO2 in order to under­stand how quickly fos­sil fuels are chang­ing our cli­mate,” said Pieter Tans, a senior sci­en­tist at NOAA’s Global Mon­i­tor­ing Divi­sion. These are mea­sure­ments of the real atmos­phere, and do not depend on any mod­els, but they help us ver­ify cli­mate model pro­jec­tions, which if any­thing have under­es­ti­mated the rapid pace of cli­mate change being observed.”

Increas­ing con­cen­tra­tions of car­bon diox­ide in the atmos­phere are an indi­ca­tion of an increase in the burn­ing of fos­sil fuels.

There is abun­dant and con­clu­sive evi­dence that the accel­er­a­tion is caused by increased emis­sions,” Tans said.

Global car­bon diox­ide con­cen­tra­tions are mea­sured in the month of May because this is when they peak, just before the start of spring in the north­ern hemi­sphere and the growth of car­bon diox­ide-absorb­ing veg­e­ta­tion.

Car­bon diox­ide is a green­house gas that causes global warm­ing and is largely man-made through the burn­ing of fos­sil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.

Many pro­pos­als have been made to mit­i­gate global warm­ing, but with­out a rapid decrease of CO2 emis­sions from fos­sil fuels, they are pretty much futile,” Tans added.

The increase of green­house gases in the atmos­phere has been linked to sea lev­els ris­ing faster than expected as well as pre­dic­tions that droughts may become more preva­lent in North Amer­ica and Europe.

CO2 growth rate is still very high,” Ralph Keel­ing, of the Scripps Insti­tu­tion of Oceanog­ra­phy, said. The increase from last May was 3.5 ppm, which is well above the aver­age for the past decade. We’re likely see­ing the effect of mild El Niño con­di­tions on top of record fos­sil fuel use.”

In 2014, read­ings at the Mauna Loa Obser­va­tory revealed the car­bon diox­ide lev­els had passed the 400 ppm thresh­old. Sci­en­tists warn that con­cen­tra­tions of more than 450 ppm can trig­ger tem­per­a­ture rises and extreme weather events.

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