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For more than six decades, atmospheric CO2 measurements have been made at the NOAA Observatory in Mauna Loa, Hawaii.
According to the latest figures released by NOAA, the amount of CO2 measured at the observatory peaked in May 2021 with an average monthly CO2 concentration of 419 parts per million (ppm). That number represents the highest level since precise measurements began being recorded 63 years ago.
CO2 measurements at the weather station at Mauna Loa began in 1958 when scientist Charles David Keeling began making measurements.
The latest result as of May 2021 as mentioned above is 419.13ppm, slightly up from the May 2020 average of 417ppm. The amount of carbon in the air today is as much as it was about 4 million years ago, when sea levels were about 24 meters higher than today.
Average concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere measured at Mauna Loa station from 1958 to present. Unit: ppm
NOAA senior scientist Pieter Tans said CO2 is by far the most anthropogenic greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere.
CO2 can stay in the atmosphere and ocean for thousands of years after it is released, he said. According to Tans, humans are adding about 40 billion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere every year. He said if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change events, our highest priority must be to reduce the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere to zero as soon as possible.
Currently the majority of CO2 emissions come from fossil fuels used for transportation and power generation, cement production, deforestation, agriculture and other activities. The characteristic of CO2 is to trap heat and prevent heat from the planet’s surface from escaping into space. Which of course leads to planetary warming and a series of extreme weather events.
NOAA also added that there are no detailed statistics on whether the global economic disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic will lead to positive changes to the climate. Some also wonder if the world’s lockdown and preventing people from going out and using traffic will reduce pollution.
The measured CO2 levels were not affected by the eruption of the Hawaiian volcano, Tans said, and the stations are located far enough away from active volcanoes to not worry about distorted measurements.
Refer to Slashgear
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