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400 ppm? If Only! Carbon Dioxide Increase Reached Record High in 2015

Back in February 2013, I asked, “Is This the Year CO2 hits 400 PPM?” It wasn’t, quite: atmospheric carbon dioxide in the gold-standard record from atop Mauna Loa, Hawaii first hit 400 parts per million in April 2014, two years ago.

We might wish wistfully for 400 ppm CO2 these days. In each of the last two months, the carbon dioxide level has hit a record high, with March 2016’s carbon dioxide level standing at 404.83 parts per million.

If that’s not bad enough, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data reveal that CO2 levels in the atmosphere aren’t only going up; the rate by which they’re going up is accelerating. In 1960, atmospheric carbon dioxide was increasing at a rate of 0.54 ppm/year. By 2015, atmospheric CO2 was increasing at a rate of 3.05 ppm/year. That’s a record high rate:

NOAA graph: the Rate of Growth of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide from 1960 to 2015

When a sprinter surpasses the old rate for a mile run, we cheer. Nobody should be cheering this new environmental world record.

3 thoughts on “400 ppm? If Only! Carbon Dioxide Increase Reached Record High in 2015”

  1. Al Hopfmann says:

    I’ll bet that the sulfur dioxide level has also been increasing in that area. Do you know why?

    1. Jim Cook says:

      Al, please look at the long term record from that station.

  2. ella says:

    Many factors are contributing to atmospheric conditions. One is the Ozone hold over the Arctic. It seems that isn’t spoken much of these days, but it seriously is a subject that is affecting us all. This year, 2016 , is expected to be a record, that is larger than ever recorded.
    http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/02/record-ozone-hole-may-open-over-arctic-spring

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