Record one-year increase in carbon dioxide levels
Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com
March 13, 2006 [Updated March 14, 2006]
Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels jumped 2.6 parts per million (ppm) in 2005, one of the largest increases on record according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Carbon dioxide levels now stand at 381 ppm, about 36 percent above pre-industrial levels.
Carbon dioxide is a principal “greenhouse gas” thought to be driving global warming. Humans boost carbon dioxide levels primarily by the combustion of fossils fuels and deforestation, and accordingly, atmospheric concentrations have risen sharply since the industrial revolution. Today the United States, the world’s largest economy and consumer of energy, produces about 24% of global carbon dioxide emissions.
Since 1960 atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels have increased from 313 ppm to 381 ppm (a 22 percent increase), according to measurements from Mauna Loa observatory, and research into Antarctic ice cores published last November indicated that carbon dioxide levels are presently 27 percent higher than at any point in the last 650,000 years.
Atmospheric CO2 concentrations (ppmv), 1958-2004, derived from in situ air samples collected at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii. Source: C.D. Keeling, T.P. Whorf, and the Carbon Dioxide Research Group at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), University of California, La Jolla, California USA 92093-0444
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects that atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels could reach 450-550 ppm by 2050, possibly resulting in higher temperatures and rising sea levels, along with a myriad of potential impacts ranging from increased storm and hurricane intensity; melting of polar ice, Arctic permafrost, and glaciers; changes in ocean currents including the Gulf Stream; increased coral bleaching and mortality of reef ecosystems; changes in ecosystems; species migration and mass extinction, especially among cold climate species; heightened danger from human pollutants like
ozone; health impacts including the spread of tropical disease into cooler climates and range expansion of other pathogens; and water shortages.
March 14, 2006: The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported that carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide “all reached new highs in 2004.” In its first Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, the WMO said that in 2004, atmoshperic carbon dioxide levels were at 377.1 parts per million (ppm), but growth is slowing–slightly. According to the UN agency, the average annual increase in absolute amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over the past decade has been 1.9 ppm, just higher than the 1.8 ppm of 2004.
The WMO says that carbon dioxide has accounted for 90 percent of warming over the past decade.
Global carbon-dioxide concentrations with anthropogenic emissions, 1750-2000.