Atmospheric GHG Concentrations Continue to Increase

CO2 levels rise despite recession

Carbon News and Info

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continued to rise over the past year, despite worldwide recession slowing industrial emissions of the main greenhouse gas. Latest measurements from Norway’s Zeppelin station on the Arctic island chain of Svalbard show the median CO2 concentration reading in 2010 rising to 393.71 parts per million (ppm), up from 393.17ppm a year ago.

While this increase is less than the average increase in recent years it shows that in a year where industrial production in many developed economies was well below par, global CO2 concentrations still rose. The International Energy Agency forecast that CO2 emissions would fall 2.6 per cent last year.

It’s not clear whether the increase is due to unforeseen human-related emissions or natural factors – some of which are responsible for seasonal variations in CO2 levels each year anyway. Johan Stroem, of the Norwegian Polar Institute, told Reuters that looking back at the last 30 years of data suggest that CO2 concentrations are rising over time at an accelerating rate.

At the other end of the world, concentrations at the Cape Grim station in Tasmania, Australia, measured by the country’s national science agency, CSIRO, reached 386 ppm in 2009 following steady annual increases since 1975. In a report on climate change impacts in Australia released this week, the agency said this level is well above the natural range of 170 to 300 ppm that has existed in the atmosphere for at least the past 800,000 years.

The report, State of the Climate, compiled with the country’s Bureau of Meteorology, also finds Australia’s average temperature has risen 0.7 degrees Celsius in the last 50 years. Megan Clark, chief executive of the CSIRO, has used the report to defend climate science’s overarching assertion that there is an unquestionable association between humans and climate change.

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