Atmospheric carbon dioxide soars past crucial milestone

first_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email Data from the two instruments at the Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station in Tasmania will be sent to CSIRO’s climate change laboratory in Melbourne for processing, and air samples collected at the site will also be analyzed in Melbourne to confirm the finding. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Earth has passed an “unfortunate milestone,” read an email alert sent out last Saturday evening Australia time. “During the last 4 days, the CO2 [carbon dioxide] levels at Cape Grim have risen above 400 parts per million (ppm),” Paul Krummel, an atmospheric scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Organisation (CSIRO) wrote to scientists.Although the measurement was expected, it is a clear warning that the level of atmospheric CO2 is entering dangerous territory, up from 280 ppm at the start of the industrial age around the year 1800. Scientists figure that the accumulation of greenhouse gases has pushed global temperatures up nearly 1.5°C since 1850. They estimate that 2°C of warming will occur at 450 ppm. Under the Paris agreement, reached at last December’s climate conference, 195 nations pledged to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to below 2°C above preindustrial levels.Because greenhouse gases like CO2 and methane are driving global warming, reaching what some call “400 Day” highlights the importance of sticking to the global commitment to reduce emissions. “Because we reached this threshold so early, we really need to reduce our emissions dramatically in order to reach the Paris agreement target of 2°C,” says Wenju Cai, a CSIRO climate modeler. Located near Tasmania’s isolated northwestern tip, the Cape Grim station is jointly operated by the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO. Currently, efforts of this valuable outpost are under a cloud because looming job cuts will see 74 of 150 scientists lose their positions in the CSIRO Oceans & Atmosphere division.Cape Grim is one of three premier baseline observatories in the Global Atmosphere Watch program of the World Meteorological Organization, along with stations in Mauna Loa, Hawaii, and Pt. Barrow, Alaska.CO2 measurements taken at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa observatory briefly surpassed 400 ppm for the first time in May 2013. And 400 ppm has been briefly topped at Mauna Loa every year since.The reason for the fluctuating reading in Northern Hemisphere observatories is that they are subject to huge seasonal cycles. CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels are concentrated in the Northern Hemisphere, but growing plants spread over the huge land mass pull CO2 from the air in spring and summer. In contrast, Cape Grim has a “very, very small” seasonal cycle, Krummel says. And thanks to its location in the Roaring 40s, where strong westerly winds blow at latitudes 40 and 50 in the Southern Ocean, the air is clean. So if it’s 400 Day at Cape Grim, it’s 400 Day worldwide. “That’s why I don’t believe we’ll go below 400 for many years—if at all,” Krummel says. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)last_img

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