Atmospheric CO2 levels at record high in 2016

Geneva, Oct 30  Carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere surged to a record high in 2016, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) announced on Monday. Last year's increase was 50 per cent higher than the average of the past 10 years, reports the BBC. The WMO said a combination of human activities and the El Nino weather phenomenon drove CO2 to a level not seen in 800,000 years This risks making global temperature targets largely unattainable, it added. This figure is based on measurements taken in 51 countries. Research stations around the globe measure concentrations of warming gases including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. "It is the largest increase we have ever seen in the 30 years we have had this network," Oksana Tarasova, chief of WMO's global atmosphere watch programme, told the BBC. "The largest increase was in the previous El Nino, in 1997-898 and it was 2.7ppm and now it is 3.3ppm, it is also 50 per cent higher than the average of the last 10 years." El Nino impacts the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by causing droughts that limit the uptake of CO2 by plants and trees. Over the past 70 years, says the report, the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is nearly 100 times larger than it was at the end of the last ice age, the WMO said. Rapidly increasing atmospheric levels of CO2 and other gases have the potential, according to the study to "initiate unpredictable changes in the climate system...leading to severe ecological and economic disruptions". The implications of these new atmospheric measurements for the targets agreed under the Paris climate pact, are quite negative, according to environmental observers.