Maryland, US (BBN)-The most recent data gathered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicates that the Earth’s monthly global average concentration of carbon dioxide has finall exceeded the highest level ever recorded, coming on the heels of what has so far been a record breaking year as far as temperatures are concerned.
At present, greenhouses gases measure 400 parts per million in the atmosphere, reports Science Recorder.
It was only a matter of time that we would average 400 parts per million globally,” said Pieter Tans of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network.
We first reported 400 ppm when all of our Arctic sites reached that value in the spring of 2012. In 2013, the record at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Observatory first crossed the 400 ppm threshold. Reaching 400 parts per million as a global average is a significant milestone.”
Scientists attribute this recent spike in greenhouse gases to human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuel.
While the worldwide emissions of fossil fuel dropped in 2014, carbon dioxide still collected in the atmosphere at rising rates.
On average, the growth rate of this concentration in the atmosphere held steady at 2.25 ppm per year between 2012 to 2014,which is the highest recorded three-year rate of increase.
Moving beyond the global 400 ppm mark suggests that global fossil fuel use can have serious consequences.
This marks the fact that humans burning fossil fuels have caused global carbon dioxide concentrations to rise more than 120 parts per million since pre-industrial times,” Tans said. “Half of that rise has occurred since 1980.”
When doing their monthly measurements, NOAA gathers air samples in 40 different sites across the globe, which are then studied and averaged together at the Earth System Research Laboratory of Colorado.
The sites investigated contain low population density.
We choose to sample at these sites because the atmosphere itself serves to average out gas concentrations that are being affected by human and natural forces.
At these remote sites we get a better global average,” said Ed Dlugokencky of NOAA.
These levels are expected to stay at their record high through the spring, but should decrease to some degree when plants continue to bloom and consume carbon dioxide for photosynthesis throughout the summer.
While reducing emissions has been a top priority for many companies, reversing the increase may be substantially difficult.
Elimination of about 80 percent of fossil fuel emissions would essentially stop the rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but concentrations of carbon dioxide would not start decreasing until even further reductions are made and then it would only do so slowly,” James Butler of NOAA’s Global Monitoring Division said.