Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Average C[O.Sub.2] Levels Reach New High

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Average C[O.Sub.2] Levels Reach New High

Article excerpt

The globally averaged concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 400 parts per million for the first time in 2015. It surged again to new records in 2016 on the back of the powerful El Nino event, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

C[O.sub.2] levels had previously reached 400 ppm for certain months of the year and in certain locations but never before on a global average basis for the entire year. The longest-established greenhouse gas monitoring station at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, predicts that C[O.sub.2] concentrations will stay above 400 ppm for the whole of 2016 and not dip below that level for many generations.

The El Nino event triggered droughts in tropical regions and reduced the capacity of "sinks" such as forests, vegetation, and the oceans to absorb C[O.sub.2]. These sinks currently absorb about half of C[O.sub.2] emissions but could become saturated.

Between 1990 and 2015 there was a 37% increase in radiative forcing--the warming effect on our climate--because of long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide ([N. …

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