Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration for the year 2016 will remain at an average of over 400 parts per million all year round – a level that hasn’t been reached in the last four million years.
The value for the concentration of CO2 in atmosphere has been arrived at after a study carried out by researchers wherein they have also pointed out that El Niño has been playing a major role in amping up the atmospheric concentration of CO2 that is being introduced through human activities. While it is no secret that our activities are causing an increase in CO2 levels every year, the year 2016 is special one for El Niño is giving the CO2 levels a boost.
According to the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, El Niño has caused warming and drying of the tropical ecosystems causing a reduction in the uptake of carbon, and exacerbating forest fires. With emissions due to human activities increasing by 25 per cent over the last big El Niño in 1997/98, this year will be be witnessing a record increase in CO2 concentrations.
Lead author Professor Richard Betts, of the Met Office Hadley Centre and University of Exeter, highlighted that CO2 concentrations at Mauna Loa is currently above 400 parts per million and while expectations point at a decrease in the concentration, chances are it will not happen for recent El Niño has warmed and dried tropical ecosystems and driven forest fires, adding to the CO2 rise.
Since natural processes only remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere gradually, levels will remain high even if human emissions began to decline. Scientists expect the concentrations to now remain above 400 parts per million for at least a human lifetime.
The ongoing CO2 measurements at Mauna Loa used in this study are made by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and an independent set of measurements are made by the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, which runs the Mauna Loa Observatory.