Increase in CO2 emissions sounds alarm
The chances of the world holding temperature rises to 2C - the level of global warming considered “safe” by scientists - appear to be fading fast with US scientists reporting the second greatest annual rise in CO2 emissions in 2012.
Carbon dioxide levels measured at at Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii jumped by 2.67 parts per million (ppm) in 2012 to 395ppm, said Pieter Tans, who leads the greenhouse gas measurement team for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The record was an increase of 2.93ppm in 1998.
The jump comes as a study published in Science magazine this week looking at global surface temperatures for the past 1,500 years warned that “recent warming is unprecedented”, prompting UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres, to say that “staggering global temps show urgent need to act. Rapid climate change must be countered with accelerated action.”
Preliminary data for February 2013 show CO2 levels last month standing at their highest ever recorded at Manua Loa, a remote volcano in the Pacific. Last month they reached a record 396.80ppm with a jump of 3.26ppm parts per million between February 2012 and 2013.
Carbon dioxide levels fluctuate seasonally, with the highest levels usually observed in April. Last year the highest level at Mauna Loa was measured at 396.18ppm.
What is disturbing scientists is the the acceleration of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, which are occurring in spite of attempts by governments to restrain fossil fuel emissions.
According to the observatory, the average annual rate of increase for the past 10 years has been 2.07ppm - more than double the increase in the 1960s. The average increase in CO2 levels between 1959 to the present was 1.49ppm per year.