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article imageCarbon dioxide rates close to breaching the 410 ppm threshold

By Karen Graham     Mar 10, 2017 in Environment
It wasn't that long ago that Earth breached the 400 ppm threshold of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, and now, just six months later, we are closing in on carbon dioxide levels going above 410 ppm. On March 9, the CO2 level was 405.65 ppm.
According to new data released by the Environmental Systems Research Laboratory (ESRL), carbon dioxide levels measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory rose at a record-fast rate for the second year in a row, reports Climate Central.
The growth in CO2 levels of 3.0 ppm in 2016 was just a tad below the 3.03 ppm recorded in 2015. But needless to say, those two years were the first time in 59 years of record-keeping by ESRL that carbon dioxide levels had ever risen more than 3.0 ppm. But here we are, today, looking at a carbon dioxide level of 405.65 ppm on March 9, 2017.
Is this reason for us to be concerned? If it's not, it should be. While we can put some blame on the exceptionally strong 2015-2016 El Nino weather event, actually, the main driver for the rise in CO2 levels is the ever-increasing carbon pollution we are experiencing.
Annual carbon dioxide growth has increased steadily since record keeping began.
Annual carbon dioxide growth has increased steadily since record keeping began.
Climate Central/ESRL
Carbon dioxide levels have been rising annually since 1960 when CO2 levels rose just under 1.0 ppm in 1960 to 2.4 ppm annually by the first half of the 2010s. The past two years have set a record for the fastest annual growth rate of CO2 levels ever.
Breaching the 410 ppm threshold
In the next few weeks, carbon dioxide is expected to pass the 410 ppm mark on a daily basis at the Mauna Loa Observatory, something we have never experienced. The monthly average for May could come close to topping 410 ppm, too, according to the U.K. Met Office’s inaugural carbon dioxide forecast, released last week.
Met Office - Observed and forecast CO2 concentrations.
Met Office - Observed and forecast CO2 concentrations.
The Met Office
Richard Betts, a climate scientist who helped create the Met Office forecast, said we will probably pass last year's record by April or even as soon as this month. He added that it’s not a question of if but rather when - Wind patterns and other factors can influence daily measurements to some degree.
In an interview reported by Digital Journal in September 2016, Ralph Keeling, who monitors C02 levels at the Scripps Institute for Oceanography commented on the world reaching the 400 ppm threshold. He said that when the focus is on moving through a threshold, people come to appreciate the meaning more.
"I hope people remember this moment so that when they hear the carbon dioxide levels are 420 ppm in a matter of years, they’ll say, ‘I remember when it was 400," he added.
But here we are, just six months later, and I wonder if people will remember when the CO2 levels were below 410 ppm in a few more months.
More about carbon dioxide levels, Threshold, 410 ppm, atmosphere in change, ghg emissions
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