'Time Running Out', Warns UN As CO2 Level Hits New High
27 May, 2014
Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have crossed a new threshold, warned World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the UN's weather agency on May 26, 2014 .
The WMO warning highlighted the urgency of curbing manmade, climate-altering greenhouse gases.
In April, for the first time, the mean monthly CO2 concentration in the atmosphere topped 400 parts per million (ppm) throughout the northern hemisphere, which pollutes more than the south, said the WMO.
According to WMO Global Atmosphere Watch network, all of its monitoring stations in northern hemisphere reported record atmospheric CO2 concentrations during the seasonal maximum.
"Time is running out," the WMO chief Michel Jarraud has stated.
"This should serve as yet another wakeup call about the constantly rising levels of greenhouse gases which are driving climate change," Jarraud said in a statement.
"If we are to preserve our planet for future generations, we need urgent action to curb new emissions of these heat-trapping gases. Time is running out," he warned.
Spring values in the northern hemisphere had previously spiked over the 400 ppm level, but this was the first time the monthly mean concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere exceeded the threshold.
Whilst the spring maximum values in the northern hemisphere have already crossed the 400 ppm level, WMO warned that the global annual average CO2 concentration is set to cross this threshold in 2015 or 2016.
The threshold is of symbolic and scientific significance, and reinforces evidence that the burning of fossil fuels is responsible for the non-stop increase in heat-trapping gases, the WMO underlined.
CO2 stays locked in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, and its lifespan in the oceans is longer still.
It is by far the most important GHG emitted by human activities and was responsible for 85 percent of the increase in radiative forcing, the warming effect on the climate, from 2002-2012.
According to the WMO, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere reached 393.1 parts per million in 2012, or 141 percent of the pre-industrial level of 278 parts per million.
The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased on average by two parts per million every year for the past decade.
In addition to that measurement recorded by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego's Mauna Loa station, which the agency refers to as a "benchmark site," the WMO states that some of the other stations that also form part of its Global Atmosphere Watch network — those in Cape Verde, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Spain and Switzerland — reported concentrations above 400 ppm for both March and April.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Annual Greenhouse Gas Index, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have increased 34 percent since 1990.
"We know that the world is getting warmer on average because of our continued emissions of heat-trapping gases," stated James Butler, Ph.D., director of the Global Monitoring Division of NOAA's Boulder-based Earth System Research Laboratory.
"Turning down the dial on this heating will become increasingly more difficult as concentrations of the long-lived greenhouse gases continue to rise each year," Butler added.
Statistics from WMO showed the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased on average by 2 ppm per year for the past 10 years.
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