Home Research Atmospheric carbon dioxide permanently breaches 400ppm mark

Atmospheric carbon dioxide permanently breaches 400ppm mark

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We are in more trouble! Concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in Earth’s atmosphere has permanently breach the 400 parts per million (ppm) level and is well beyond the point of no return.

All the optimism that the month of September will bring down the levels of atmospheric CO2 has gone down the drain with climate scientists revealing that we will never be seeing sub-400ppm levels again and this piece of information is a pretty bad one considering that the whole world is battling global warming and climate change. While the 400ppm threshold was breached a few months back, scientists were having high hopes that September will help stem that increase and bring levels below the 400pmm threshold, but that didn’t happen.

Why were scientists hoping that the levels will go down in month of September? This month is crucial for compensating the increase in CO2 levels during the summer months for the simpler reason that after the scorching heat during May to August, plants and trees start growing rapidly due to cooler temperatures and increased availability of water. This increased growth requires more CO2, which the plants and trees fulfil by sucking in more amounts of atmospheric CO2 and hence during this month the concentrations of CO2 decline.

The low point in September reflects the transition between summer and fall, when the uptake of CO2 by vegetation weakens and is overtaken by the release of CO2 from soils. However the scenario doesn’t continue because as fall wears on, these plants start shedding their leaves, which in turn decompose, releasing the stored carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere.

So what about October? Any chance of us seeing sub-400ppm levels of CO2 in the current month? Climate scientists are not optimistic and say that this is almost impossible. Citing the last 20 years, scientists say that only during four years were CO2 levels in October lower than those in September. These years were 2002, 2008, 2009, and 2012. However, even in these years the decline in CO2 levels from September to October was at most 0.45 ppm and this effectively means that it is highly unlikely that there will be a drop in monthly value for October.

Scientists say that the CO2 levels probably will be higher than 401 ppm and by November, things will get worse with levels breaching the 410 ppm barrier.

“At best (in that scenario), one might expect a balance in the near term and so CO2 levels probably wouldn’t change much — but would start to fall off in a decade or so,” Gavin Schmidt, NASA’s chief climate scientist, said in an emailed statement. “In my opinion, we won’t ever see a month below 400 ppm.”

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