Another year, another sad record. The World Meteorological Organization has finished compiling the data for 2013, and on average CO2 levels in the atmosphere reached a record 396.0 parts per million (ppm). That's 2.9 ppm higher than in 2012. It might not seem like much if you don't realize just how big the Earth's atmosphere is in volume, how much carbon ends up in sinks like the oceans, and how many billions of tonnes of carbon this represents. The surge from 2012 to 2013 is actually the largest year-to-year increase since 1984, when reliable global records began.
In 2013, concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was 142% of the pre-industrial era (1750), and of methane and nitrous oxide 253% and 121% respectively.
“We know without any doubt that our climate is changing and our weather is becoming more extreme due to human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.
“The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin shows that, far from falling, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere actually increased last year at the fastest rate for nearly 30 years. We must reverse this trend by cutting emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases across the board,” he said. “We are running out of time.”
“Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for many hundreds of years and in the ocean for even longer. Past, present and future CO2 emissions will have a cumulative impact on both global warming and ocean acidification. The laws of physics are non-negotiable,” said Mr Jarraud.
For more details, check out the WMO's Greehnouse Gas Bulletin.