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Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Levels Highest Ever Recorded

23 November 2007

Column averaged CO2 mixing ratio (ppm) for 1 February 2005 calculated from NOAA’s CarbonTracker model and measurements from a number of sites in the WMO-GAW Global CO2 network described in the Bulletin. Blue regions have relatively low CO2 and red regions have relatively high CO2. Click to enlarge.

In 2006, globally averaged concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O) in the atmosphere reached new highs with CO2 at 381.2 ppm and N2O at 320.1 ppb, according to the just-published World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) 2006 Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. The mixing ratio of methane (CH4 ) remains almost unchanged at 1782 ppb.

These values are higher than those in pre-industrial times by 36%, 19% and 155%, respectively. Atmospheric growth rates in 2006 of CO2 and N2O gases are consistent with recent years. Methane growth has slowed during the past decade.

The information is based on observations from the WMO Global CO2 and CH4 Monitoring Network, a comprehensive climate network recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

After water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are the three most prevalent greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere respectively.

The 36% rise in CO2 since the late 1700s has largely been generated by emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels. Around one third of N2O discharged into the air is a result of human activities such as fuel combustion, biomass burning, fertilizer use and some industrial processes. Human activity such as fossil fuel exploitation, rice agriculture, biomass burning, landfills and ruminant farm animals account for some 60% of atmospheric CH4, with natural processes including those produced by wetlands and termites responsible for the remaining 40%.

Accurate atmospheric observations made globally by some 44 WMO Members are archived and distributed by the World Data Centre for Greenhouse Gases (WDCGG), located at the Japan Meteorological Agency.

WMO prepares the Greenhouse Gases Bulletin in cooperation with WDCGG and the Global Atmosphere Watch Scientific Advisory Group for Greenhouse Gases with the assistance of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory (NOAA-ESRL).

Enhancing the monitoring effort was the 2007 launch by the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of CarbonTracker, a global carbon cycle modelling tool that converts surface-based global greenhouse gas observations into best estimates of global distribution in the atmosphere and the net air-surface exchange of carbon dioxide.


November 23, 2007 in Climate Change, Emissions | Permalink | Comments (26) | TrackBack (0)


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Media release South pacific leaders want global day of protest, rescheduled to before the Bali summit. Instead of during the summit. This would significantly alter the agenda at the summit.
The leaders will be wearing RED inprotest at the industrialized countries lack of action.
This report from he World Metrological Organisation refers to the year 2006.
The runnaway feedback that kiced in this year 2007 Has altered the IPCC reported .4M -1.4M sea level rise prediction to a revised 7M (by the end of the century.)
90 +% accuracy re both certainty and anthropological origin.
I'm seeing red too
regs Arnold

Over last 30 years CO2 emissions have increased dramtically.

But over the same time period, the rate of increase of atmospheric CO2 contration has been nearly constant.

Now, how can emissions skyrocket, while actual CO2 concentration continues to go up at the same rate?

The runaway feedback greenhouse effect that is seeing out 2007 and seeing in 2008 will raise sea levels by 7 meters by 2009 and by 100 meters by 2010. Runaway feedback is unstoppable now. It is time to move to high ground because only the highest mountains on earth will be above sea level when all the arctic ice cap melts.

Any explanation for the high levels from central Africa?

if you use the link to the report read on you will see that the CO2 over the African landmas is attriutable to biomass burning.

James I sen you an email,via the highlighted link it bounced. no ""
can you supply a legitimate address?

@ James -

ocean levels are expected to rise, but not nearly as fast or as far as you are suggesting. quotes the current IPCC estimates of 18-59cm by the last decade of the 21st century, relative to levels at the end of the 20th. The subsequent discussion warns that the uncertainties inherent in current prediction mean a wider range of possible outcomes ought to be considered (up to ~100cm at the top end). The drivers are melting ice in the polar regions plus thermal expansion of the water mass.

Even this seemingly moderate rise would actually cause very significant problems for densely populated low-lying areas, e.g. Holland, Bangladesh and several Pacific island nations plus Florida, East Anglia (UK), Flanders etc. Issues include ground water salination as well as loss of habitable/arable acreage.

I would suggest that the "new cambrian' Believers, while seemingly drawing on historical evidence from various geopaleontological evidence and therefore have that much credibility, I suggest that the best scientific evidence we have today is quite appropriate as a working model.
I prefer to believe in best case scenarios, ie I have no choice but to remain optomistic.
A logical aproach to the situation is to recognise that an even worse than worst case scenario could eventuate if people lose nerve or faith or belief in their ability to make a difference . On that basis, I dont think postulating beyond that wich can be understood. (there is much of the world we dont understand at all well.)And here lies some powerfull tools, If we can understand and utilise them.

Rafael, I have difficulty interperating the analysis as inconsistent with my earlier post.
Because the realclimate analysis 1: Is dated march 07.
My comment refers to post feb07 data. 2: The RClimate analysis specifically states that the worst case 1M data inputs DO NOT include runaway conditions.(even though here are hints pointing towards this possibility and so is consistant with latest...
The FEB data on which the IPCC report is based predates the realclimate analysis. This suggests to me that the latest prediction while not neccesarily fully accepted yet will become the benchmark for the next while.
It seeems to me you ae sugesting he most optomistic analysis on only some of he advice available in feb-mach. That doesnt apply when we know tat runnaway is real. So Conservatively 1.4M, followed by From the same authors(climate modelling) 7M sounds quite appropriate. I just hope he statistical model will stand still fo a while.
I really dont see any change from (my) head down approach will work any better. We can only do our best and on that level, I have tremendous faith in all our abilities.
I am interperating this 7 M prediction as a done deal. And hope that actions we are asking for will see the slowing and eventual reversal of he trend.
Now the certainty of that I can't say, But I do know that dropping the baby is not an option at any stage.
If I or my kids or theres are going to have a future.

Article of Australian geoscientist Cliff Ollier explaining why Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets can not melt-down or slide into the ocean:

As for ocean level, it will continue to rise, as it did for last 8000 years.

@ Rafael -
==ocean levels are expected to rise, but not nearly as fast or as far as you are suggesting. quotes the current IPCC estimates of 18-59cm by the last decade of the 21st century, relative to levels at the end of the 20th.==

Actually the current IPCC synthesis report says that:

IPCC: "Because understanding of some important effects driving sea level rise is too limited, this report does not assess the likelihood, nor provide a best estimate or an upper bound for sea level rise. The projections do not include uncertainties in climate-carbon cycle feedbacks nor the full effects of changes in ice sheet flow, therefore the upper values of the ranges are not to be considered upper bounds for sea level rise"

James Hansen goes over why the sea level rise issues are being vastly underrated. (Pretty much, not many researchers want to stick their neck out on the issue)

Another study by Drew Shindell finds that Tropospheric Ozone may be our prime culprit for glaciers melting.

Another more wordy way to say that is:

"The gravest threat we foresee starts with surface melt on West Antarctica and
interaction among positive feedbacks leading to catastrophic ice loss. Warming
in West Antarctica in recent decades has been limited by effects of stratospheric
ozone depletion (Shindell & Schmidt 2004). However, climate projections
(Hansen et al. 2006b) find surface warming in West Antarctica and warming of
nearby ocean at depths that may attack buttressing ice shelves. Loss of ice
shelves allows more rapid discharge from ice streams, in turn a lowering and
warming of the ice sheet surface, and increased surface melt. Rising sea level
helps unhinge the ice from pinning points.
Climate change and trace gases 1949
Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A (2007)
West Antarctica seems to be moving into a mode of significant mass loss
(Thomas et al. 2004). Gravity data yielded mass loss of approximately
150 km3 yrK1 in 2002–2005 (Velicogna & Wahr 2006). A warming ocean has
eroded ice shelves by more than 5 m yrK1 over the past decade (Rignot & Jacobs
2002; Shepherd et al. 2004). Satellite QuickSCAT radiometer observations
(Nghiem et al. 2007), initiated in 1999, reveal an increasing area of summer melt
on West Antarctica and an increasing melt season over the period of record.
Attention has focused on Greenland, but the most recent gravity data indicate
comparable mass loss from West Antarctica. We find it implausible that Business As Usual (BAU)
scenarios, with climate forcing and global warming exceeding those of the
Pliocene, would permit a West Antarctic ice sheet of present size to survive even
for a century.
Our concern that BAU GHG scenarios would cause large sea-level rise this
century (Hansen 2005) differs from estimates of IPCC (2001, 2007), which foresees
little or no contribution to twenty-first century sea-level rise from Greenland and
Antarctica. However, the IPCC analyses and projections do not well account for the
nonlinear physics of wet ice sheet disintegration, ice streams and eroding ice shelves,
nor are they consistent with the palaeoclimate evidence we have presented for the
absence of discernable lag between ice sheet forcing and sea-level rise.

Also for some reason the IPCC report reduced their sea level rise estimate from 2001 to 2007 Even though the glacier melt rate went way up during that time frame.

It's not an article, it's a pamphlet, a rant from someone who also discredits four decades of solid plate tectonics science, on a website named 'the axis of good'...we heard before similar trolls during the reich

Throw the professor into concentration camp. The troll is against consensus science.

Quantum physics was labelled ‘Jewish science’ in Hitler Germany and prosecuted as contrarian to classic ‘consensus’ physics. In Stalin Russia same was happening with Lysencoism (take a look at Wiki).

Environazi are trying to do same thing today: label their critics as the enemies of humankind. The results are well known from the history.

Yes, the only reason that contrarians can't come up with peer reviewed evidence is that there's a Hilter conspiracy blocking them from being heard.

Thats the type of argument that you guys are reduced to ;D

And as sea levels rise so too does water vapor at various levels of atmosphere - thus condensing into clouds reflecting solar radiation away and trapping (feedback) heat below them. As water vapor represents +70% of real green houses gases (CO2 = .0373% atmosphere) - paying closer attention to this GHG is ever more important.

Grey Falcon:

It is not about labelling science or scientists, it is about fraudulent interpretation of the science. For particular question of sea level rise there are hundreds of pier-reviewed and published articles which do not confirm catastrophic sea level rise scenario. For one take a look here (reviews are based strictly on published papers):

You do not like commentary of Idso? Fine with me. But reference articles and presented data are genuine.

==You do not like commentary of Idso?==

Yes I don't like an organization staffed entirely by Idso family members acting like they are somehow an objective science organization.
Also they keep posting these weird sources for their stuff.
"Weather Monthly" for instance. Is that even a science journal?

1995?!? Wow.
Climate Science sure has moved on since then.
Particularly in this specific area.

Largely due to the landmark findings in this report.
Where indeed, the troposphere warms faster than the surface.

Water vapor, while important, it cannot accumulate in the atmosphere. The ammount in the troposphere is regulated by the temperature of the troposphere.

It does however provide a good reason for why temperature changes in the troposphere can be vastly magnified though.


You still continue to label the messengers rather than getting to the point.

Idso is respected scientist with couple of hundreds of scientific publications, and members of his family are renowned scientists at the field too. Their opinion, however polemic it is, could not be dismissed easily.

And you are totally messed-up with global temperatures. Official global temperature record is compiled by Hansen in US and Jones in England from surface weather stations measurements of air temperature at 1.5 meter off surface. It is totally messed-up and massaged to fit the agenda. Satellite global measurements are measurements of air temperatures in lower 5 kilometers of troposphere, made by sensing of radiative heat emissions of oxygen molecules. They are calibrated by test measurements of weather balloons, and while conforming generally to surface temperature data, they do not show extend of lower troposphere warming as surface stations data suggests.

Water vapor does not magnify warming. It moderates temperature swings between night and day, summer and winter, tropics and temperate climatic zones, and serves as heat exchange agent between surface and upper troposphere, and between tropics and polar regions. Plus it is source of clouds, which are totally unaccounted for in doom and gloom climate models.

Have a nice day.

"Quantum physics was labelled ‘Jewish science’ in Hitler Germany and prosecuted as contrarian to classic ‘consensus’ physics."

Nice to see that somebody's already pulling a Godwin. Good work, troops.

"Idso is respected scientist with couple of hundreds of scientific publications, and members of his family are renowned scientists at the field too. Their opinion, however polemic it is, could not be dismissed easily."

Sorry, but yes, they can be dismissed. Easily. Why? Conflicts of interest. Idso's "Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change" has received $90,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998, and according to their website they offer professional services to companies filing GHG reports. The family business has also been linked to the Western Fuels Assosciation, an energy development lobbying group, and both Sherwood Idso's sons have directly worked for WFA. Kioth Idso served as a paid expert witness for WFA in a Minnesota hearing. Sherwood Idso has had paid positions with the George Marshall Institute (which recieves ExxonMobil grants), and the Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow (supported by ExxonMobil). Nobody whose entire present salary is paid by energy interests can be trusted to present an objective view of the human role in global biogeochemistry...and it's amazing how many of the most prominent climate change skeptics (Lindzen, Singer, Marsten, Baliunas, Soon, Balling, etc) are sucking from the ExxonMobil teat.

Never mind that their whole thesis - the idea that carbon dioxide will actually fertilize ecosystems - is so childishly ridiculous as to barely deserve comment. Amazing how quickly one forgets basic ecology when green of another kind is on offer. Numerous studies - including, I must mention, one that I worked on as a graduate student - have established that the fertilization effect of extra carbon dioxide is limited by available nitrogen. And nitrogen is, in most systems, limiting. So all that happens in a system with more carbon dioxide is that biomass increases incrementally to the level that available nitrogen can support, then stops. Idso fails basic ecology.

Well CO2 does increase growth.
However there's vastly diminishing returns.

So far we're almost at a point where it plateaus out.

And as mentioned, CO2 is rarely the limiting factor in growth.

What is the limiting factor is usually nitrogen,
But even more important is water availibility.

There's almost a direct 1 to 1 correlation with water versus plant growth.

And global warming will most likely change weather patterns, increase evaporation, and cause heatwaves, droughts, and wildfires.

All in all, not that good news for plant growth.


Now the other problem with all that, is that it makes those saying "We'll plant trees to stop global warming", kind of dumb.

So there's naivity on both sides.

Flcn - correct, hydrological study has evolved since 1995, however the data in the reference are still valid foundations. 2007 IPCC Statement for Policymakers stated:

“The average atmospheric water vapour content has increased since at least the 1980s over land and ocean as well as in the upper troposphere. The increase is broadly consistent with the extra water vapour that warmer air can hold.”

Interestingly, there are models that indicate increase in warmer air and therefor water vapor yields increases in precipitation (rainfall, storms, floods etc.). Where there is accurate precipitation data for the past 50 years (over the contiguous US) there is a curious result: increase in summer rainfall coincides with a corresponding decrease in average temperature (DTR 1950 - 2005.)

Aerial carbon fertilization (by atmospheric CO2) is the most guarded ‘secret’ of AGW activists, especially enviroextremist crowd which use AGW scare to realize their long-time dream: starve to death half of global population and place another part in reservations. It is, luckily, only small part of AGW movement, often called environazis or greenshirts; other entities use catastrophic AGW theory for other purposes. IPCC, for example, use it just to enhance their life enjoyment:

“…the management of Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport are concerned that the large number of additional private charter flights expected in Bali during the UN Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC) December 3-15, 2007, will exceed the carrying capacity of apron areas. To meet the added demand for aircraft storage officials are allocating "parking space" at other airports in Indonesia.”

But hey, as popular saying goes, AGW theory has utility of one-size-fit-all condom: it allows for substantial inflation, halts production, destroys the chances of the next generation, protects a bunch of pricks and gives you a strong sense of security while you are actually being f…d.
But returning for carbon fertilization. Plants developed photosynthesis mechanism more than billion years ago, when CO2 concentration in atmosphere was 5-10 times higher than today. And such high CO2 concentrations in atmosphere were mostly the rule, not exception, for most of the history of Earth. Photosynthesis in plants halts completely when CO2 concentrations in the air drops below 140 ppm, but plant’s life can barely survive at concentrations less than 200 ppm. As of last couple of millions of years, Earth plant kingdom is suffering and starving from unusually low CO2 in the air. Animal kingdom, as dependent on plants to survive, suffers correspondingly. Some plants mutated to cheat this problem: C4 plants developed mechanism to concentrate atmospheric CO2 in their leaves, and such plants have vastly improved biomass growth rate. C4 plants represent only about 5% of Earth plant biomass, among them are such plants as sugarcane, maize (corn), sorgum, switchgrass, amaranth, mallet. Sounds the bell? Biofuels and energy crops, anyone?
The most pronounced effect increased atmospheric CO2 has on plants water use efficiency. Mechanics is very simple: plants adsorb CO2 by tiny openings in leaves and needles, called stomata. Such openings work two ways: they adsorb CO2, but unavoidably water from plants body evaporates through stomata openings. Water loss through stomata is many times bigger than water flow necessary to carry nutrients from the roots to the leaves. As CO2 in the air increases, most plants close stomata openings, reducing unproductive water loss. There is excellent article in Wiki, look “stomata”.
There are close to thousand published scientific papers from decades ago to today, which prove by open field experiments that carbon fertilization is major factor enhancing plants growth. Carbon fertilization improves nitrogen use efficiency, improves plants resistance to parasites and pests, improves survivability after physical damage and extreme cold and hot, and generally shifts optimum biomass yield temperature couple of degrees to the warmer side. For plants stressed by lack of moisture and fertilizers, increase of atmospheric CO2 from “preindustrial 280 ppm” to current 380 ppm already resulted in increase of yield for wheat by 11%, oranges 37%, young pine trees whopping 72%. Carbon fertilization effect is proven to be linear up to 1000 ppm CO2 to most plants, and saturation point of carbon fertilization lays at about 1500 ppm for moisture stressed (and most plants are) plants (averaged from 279 published experiments). Field experiments proved that doubling of CO2 in the air to 600 ppm will result in increase of dry wheat yield by 38%, oranges by 130%, young pine trees by 248%. Practically all greenhouses artificially increase indoor CO2 concentration to about 1000 ppm (it is usual concentration of CO2 in offices and homes, totally harmless to humans and animals) to optimize harvest. Just Google “greenhouse tomato carbon dioxide” for references.
Such effects are common to almost all of about 500 researched plant species. Detailed results are presented here:
Summary of results are presented here:
And do not be surprised that persons, web sites, scientists, and institutions revealing the truth about carbon fertilization are the most hated enemies of AGW extremists.
End of weekend rant.

Andrey, now you're quoting a medical institute for climate science...

And yes, once again, half the authors are family members. Don't you find that the least bit strange?

Whats more, it's not even peer reviewed by a physical science journal. Instead it's an "Anti Socialist Surgeon's Journal".

You think maybe they are trying to make it appear as if it went through actual scientific peer review? When it didn't.


I know that word and personal opinion of single unknown poster on the web blog does not count much, but the information presented in my references was cross-proved by literally hundreds of scientific papers I’ve read on the subject in last two years.

The issue of AGW is twisted by advocacy groups so much, that I would not recommend to believe the word of anyone, however reputable, without due diligence and cross-examination (examination of facts, not ad hom allegations by another advocacy web sites). Luckily, internet and Google make such searches quite easy to everyone.

To be fair to Andrey - the summary paper he references contains 132 citations - mostly from highly respected peer reviewed journals.

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