Carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere hit the highest levels on record last month, NOAA warns

Levels of atmospheric CO2 continue to set disconcerting records as the month of May tops out as with the highest average peak in recorded history. 

According to the NOAA, levels of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere recorded at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Atmospheric Baseline Observatory have hit their highest seasonal peak in the observatory’s 61 years on record, climbing to 414.7 parts per million. 

‘It’s critically important to have these accurate, long-term measurements of CO2 in order to understand how quickly fossil fuel pollution is changing our climate,’ said Pieter Tans, senior scientist with NOAA’s Global Monitoring Division. 

‘These are measurements of the real atmosphere. They 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.’ 

The precedent comes as part of an upward trend of seven consecutive years in which the observatory has recorded steep rises. 

While early years at Mauna Loa, which sits atop a volcano in Hawaii, saw annual increases of about .7 parts per million, throughout the last decade that rate has jumped to about 2.2 parts per million every year.

Monthly values breached 400 parts per million for the first time just five years ago. Just Last month, levels quietly hit 415 parts per million for the first in human history.

While the month of May is typically the highest of any month in terms of CO2 — levels tend to cycle due to the emission of CO2 from plants in the earl spring — scientists at the observatory say that the evidence that such a rapid rise is being stoked by increasing greenhouse gas emissions is undeniable.    

Record levels of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere mirror a slew of recent climate-related news that portend major changes to the makeup of natural environments and societies across the globe.

A recent study from the U.N. found that even if the emission reductions kept stride with the Paris Agreement, a global climate accord that brought together 174 states around the world, the world’s temperature would still continue to rise between 3-5 degrees Celsius throughout the next 30 years.

That temperature uptick spells out a host of issues for a rapidly melting Arctic and global sea level rise that could displace millions of people across the world.   

Among the effects of a changing climate, according to a recent UN report are record sea level rises, floods, storms, heatwaves and wildfires.  

The broader existential threat posed by unmitigated climate change to humans and all other species was highlighted in another recent blockbuster report from the U.N. that said 1 million species are at risk of extinction due to human activity.

Categories:   Mailonline Science


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