Last year, according to new figures from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, saw the joint third highest rise in global carbon dioxide concentrations since measurements began in 1998. NOAA says 2.4 molecules of carbon dioxide were added to every million molecules in the air, totalling around 19 billion tonnes and taking concentrations to 385 parts per million (press release).
“It’s gloomy,” says NOAA’s Pieter Tans (Retuers). “With carbon dioxide emissions, we’re on the wrong track, it’s obvious. And I’m also fully convinced that we’re in actually quite a dangerous situation for climate.”
However 2.4 ppm isn’t that unusual and the agency says annual increases of 2 ppm or more have been common since 2000 (click carbon dioxide graph right for longer term trend graph). The methane figures are potentially more troubling.
Methane is a far more effective global warmer than carbon dioxide and last year saw another 27 million tonnes of it in the atmosphere after a decade of no change (click methane graph left for longer term trend graph).
There have been some concerns that a warmer Earth could trigger a huge release of methane from deposits in Arctic permafrost.
”We’re on the lookout for the first sign of a methane release from thawing Arctic permafrost,” says NOAA’s Ed Dlugokencky. “It’s too soon to tell whether last year’s spike in emissions includes the start of such a trend.”
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