2016 breaks atmospheric CO2 records

Researchers estimate that the world will be 4ºC hotter in 2050

2016 breaks atmospheric CO2 records

Leer en Español: 2016 rompe récords en concentración de CO2 atmosférico

According to the World Meteorological Organization, during 2016, scientists reported that Earth had a historical concentration of CO2. The organization assured that they registered 403.3 parts per million of carbon dioxide molecules, 3 ppm more than the previous year. Professor Euan Nisbet from the Royal Holloway University in London explained to the BBC "the 3ppm CO2 growth rate in 2015 and 2016 is extreme. Double the growth rate that in the 1990-2000 decade".

World Meteorological Organization: in 2016, the planet increased 3 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere breaking the 800,000 years record

The researchers warned that it was the highest amount of CO2 particles in 800,000 years, 100 times more than what it was at the end of the ice age. According to the study, it can "initiate unpredictable changes in the climate system (...) leading to severe ecological and economic disruptions".

This year's WMO report published data from 51 different countries after measuring the concentration of harmful gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, among others.

According to the report, despite the absorption mechanisms of the planet, which includes oceans and plants, the high concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is caused by human activity and El Niño weather phenomenon.

The last time Earth experienced a similar CO2 concentration was, approximately, 3-5 million years ago. Then, the climate was 2-3 degrees Celsius warmer and the sea levels were 10-20 meters higher.

Increasing the temperature

Meanwhile, another study from the Valladolid University in Spain predicts that the temperature in planet Earth will increase 4 degrees Celsius by 2050. The paper, published in the Ecological Economist journal, studied the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) which are the promises that every country made in the Paris Agreement to reduce their CO2 production.

Valladolid University: Even if all the countries fulfilled each self-imposed commitment, the planet’s temperature will increase at least by 3C.

The Paris Agreement seeks to prevent the increase of the temperature by 2 degrees Celsius, an average concluded from the temperatures from the year 1850. However, the research assured that even if all nations fulfilled their commitment to the planet, the temperature will still increase by at least 3 degrees Celsius. Jaime Nieto, Valladolid University's research expert, explained that China and India will be the most responsible countries.

With just a 2 degree Celsius, the world would be victim of longer heat waves, droughts in the tropics, reduced crop fields, and coral reefs dying off

According to climate experts, just a 2-degree Celsius increase could make climate change irreversible and will cause catastrophic consequences, like longer heat waves, greater droughts, reduced crop yield, while putting all coral reefs in great danger.

The results were published days before the Climate Conference in Bonn, Germany, where delegations from all over the world will meet to discuss the Paris Agreement implementations.  


Latin American Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

More Articles