climate change science

CO2 concentrations at 386.8ppm

The WMO Global Atmosphere Watch Programme released its 2010 bulletin this week, showing that 2009 reached another new high in greenhouse gas emissions. CO2 parts per million hit 386.8ppm, which is 38% higher than pre-industrial times.

The report also shows an increase in methane emissions. These had stabilised, but have grown in the past three years. This is not understood, but may be due to natural changes as the earth warms – the melting of permafrost for example, one of the climate feedback mechanisms that has been postulated as the earth warms.

This is the sixth annual bulletin from the Global Atmosphere Watch Programme. It charts emissions of the five main greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) nitrous oxide (N2O), CFC-12 and CFC-11. By measuring the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere, the radiative forcing effect can also be measured. That’s the heat-trapping ‘greenhouse’ effect, and it is up 27.5% on pre-industrial times.

This particular document doesn’t record temperature. Those measurements are taken elsewhere, but the average temperature has risen 0.8C since pre-industrial times. This year, with November and December still to add, is currently tied with 1998 as the hottest year on record.

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