2016 could mark first time when CO2 concentrations remain above 400 ppm for complete year
Forecast from the UK Met Office says that 2016 will most probably be the first time when the concentration of carbon dioxide will remain above 400 parts per million for the entire year. The rise in carbon dioxide levels is considered to be due to El Niño climate phenomenon.
The situation is not at all good for environment because forests are not able to completely lower carbon dioxide levels from the atmosphere. Also, there is an increased risk of fires that further would add to carbon into the air.
Prof Richard Betts at the Met Office's Hadley Centre in Exeter said that they are not expecting something magical to take place. The condition is a reflection of the effect of ongoing things on the climate system.
The measurements have been taken from atop Hawaii's famous Mauna Loa volcano. General trend is carbon dioxide levels increase in winter months and then move back as the Northern Hemisphere growing season starts.
This year, the experts are expecting a record rise in the carbon dioxide concentration of 3.15ppm, plus or minus 0.53ppm. Otherwise, the rise is expected to be by an average of about 2ppm per year. After considering all these factors, the average for this year turns out to be of 404.45.
"It's important to note that this year's rise in CO2 is bigger than the last El Niño, in 1997/8, because human emissions have gone up by 25% since then. So, it's the natural effect on top of the increasing human effect", affirmed Betts. Experts do not think that it would be possible for CO2 concentrations to come down again at Mauna Loa within at least a generation.
According to a report in CS Monitor by Weston Williams, "Usually, September marks a low in the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. This concentration sets the bar over which levels of the greenhouse gas will fluctuate throughout the next year. But this September, CO2 levels are staying high, at around 400 parts per million, and many scientists think that we will not see levels of the greenhouse gas drop below that threshold within our lifetimes."
"The last time our planet saw 400 ppm carbon dioxide in our atmosphere was about 3.5 million years ago, and global climate was distinctly different than today," David Black, associate professor in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University in New York, tells The Christian Science Monitor in an email.
While global concentrations have spiked above the 400 ppm level for several years, the summer growing season has always absorbed enough atmospheric CO2 through photosynthesis to keep concentrations below that mark for the bulk of the year.
A report published in BBC informed, "Twenty-sixteen will very likely mark the first time the concentration of CO2, as measured atop Hawaii's famous Mauna Loa volcano, has been above 400 parts per million for the entire year. The forecast is from the UK Met Office. It says carbon dioxide levels have seen a surge in recent months as a result of the El Niño climate phenomenon, which has warmed and dried the tropics."
The scientists used a seasonal climate model to predict sea-surface temperatures in the Eastern Pacific - where the El Niño shows itself most obviously - and then linked these to a statistical relationship with CO2 to generate a picture of what levels would probably look like across the calendar year.
For the future, it is unlikely that CO2 concentrations will come down again at Mauna Loa within at least a generation, even if the commitments to constrain emissions agreed at the Paris climate summit last year are fully implemented. The Earth system responds only very slowly to change.