Thursday, 22 August, 2019


Global Carbon Dioxide Concentration Surpasses Record Level, Highest In Last 800000 Years

Levels of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere have reached a record high according to measurements taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory Global Carbon Dioxide Concentration Surpasses Record Level, Highest In Last 800000 Years
Kristine Garrett | 06 May, 2018, 14:04

Sixty years earlier at the beginning of the records, Carbon dioxide levels were at 315 ppm. On Wednesday, researchers from the University of California in San Diego calculated the April's monthly average carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere.

The increase in gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide is fuelling climate change and making "the planet more risky and inhospitable for future generations", the World Meteorological Organisation has said. Not just are carbon dioxide levels increasing every year, they are accelerating with unbearable pace. This is the highest concentration of carbon ever recorded and also represents a dramatic 30 percent increase in the gas since the Keeling Curve began in 1958.

The recent data marks the fifth consecutive year that carbon dioxide is on the rise.

CO2 levels were around 280 parts per million prior to the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s, when large amounts of greenhouse gases began to be released by burning fossil fuels.

Professor Keeling discovered that carbon dioxide was rising continuously and that there were annual fluctuations in carbon in the atmosphere (the little squiggles on the line), caused by seasonal variations in plant growth and decay. "It puts us closer to some targets we don't really want to get to, like getting over 450 or 500 ppm".

In an interview with CNN, Ralph Keeling, head of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography's Scripps CO2 program, said that the newly recorded greenhouse gas levels are alarming, as it points to a trend where the amount of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere keeps increasing and potentially worsening the effects of climate change on our planet.

Back in the 1950s, when Keeling began his experiments, no-one knew whether the Carbon dioxide released from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil/petroleum and natural gas) would end up in the atmosphere or be fully absorbed by oceans and forests.

It was 50 years ago that a young American scientist, Charles David Keeling, began tracking Carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere at two of the world's last wildernesses - the South Pole and the summit of the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii. It is the most prevalent among all greenhouse gases produced by human activities, attributed to the burning of fossil fuels. "It's essentially as simple as that".

"As a scientist, what concerns me the most is not that we have passed yet another round-number threshold, but what this continued rise actually means: that we are continuing full speed ahead with an unprecedented experiment with our planet, the only home we have", tweeted Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University.

Carbon dioxide results in global warming because it traps solar radiation, keeping it in the atmosphere when normally it would leak into space.

NOAA's Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.

The Scripps CO2 measurements at Mauna Loa have been supported for many years by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and have more recently been supplemented by Earth Networks, a technology company that is collaborating with Scripps to expand the global GHG monitoring network. When fossil fuels such as oil and coal are burned, carbon dioxide is emitted.

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