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WMO: Atmospheric Concentrations of Greenhouse Gases in 2005 Reach New Highs

Changes in atmospheric radiative forcing by long-lived greenhouse gases and the 2005 NOAA Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI). Click to enlarge.

In 2005, the globally averaged concentrations of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O) reached new highs with CO2 at 379.1 parts per million (ppm)—up 0.53% from 377.1 ppm in 2004—and N2O at 319.2 parts per billion (ppb), according to the 2005 Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, published by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Methane (CH4) concentrations were unchanged at 1,783 ppb. These values are higher than those in pre-industrial times by 35.4%, 18.2% and 154.7%, respectively. After water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are respectively the three most prevalent greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The recently introduced NOAA Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI) shows that from 1990 to 2005 the atmospheric radiative forcing by all long-lived greenhouse gases has increased by 21.5%. The AGGI increased by 1.25% from 2004 to 2005.

Radiative forcing is the change in the balance between radiation coming into the atmosphere and radiation going out. A positive radiative forcing tends on average to warm the surface of the Earth, and negative forcing tends on average to cool the surface.

The 35.4% rise in carbon dioxide 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 from 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.




OK. We know levels of green house gases are going up. Are there such a thing as "cold house" gases? If we bump up the level of cold house gases that should offset the heating.

Paul Dietz

Are there such a thing as "cold house" gases?

These would be materials that are transparent in the far IR but opaque in the visible and near IR. Fluorescent dyes and microscopic scattering particles can have this property. There are proposals to seed the upper atmosphere with things like this to compensate at least partially for increased CO2 levels. There could be bad side effects (increased catalysis of ozone destruction on the surface of some kinds of particles), it wouldn't address ocean acidification, and even if you did it the temperature distribution on Earth would change (since the change in effective insolation would not have the same latitude distribution as the greenhouse effect's change on IR radiation to space.) However, it's potentially a way to prevent disaster from spinning completely out of control if other efforts fail, and potentially could be quite inexpensive compared to many alternatives.


Paul Diatz,
It is called "Global Cooling", no joke. Sulfur Dioxides, emitted via utilizing unmitigated sulfur rich fossil energy, create sufuric acid droplets in the atmosphere, or aerosols. They help seed low clouds, block/reflect sunlight, and therefore cool the planet. This has nasty side effects, like disturbing the Monsoons/rainy season and causing droughts. More PM also helps seed clouds, cause clouds to form more readily than otherwise, ones that are brighter and cool temps. This decreases evaporation, meaning less water vapor, thus decreased precipitation, in the long run.
As for your muse about "cold house" gases, I would go for outbound IR transparent (reflecting inbound IR), omnidirectionally visible tranparent, and UV reflective/blocking.





According to most reliable scientific data, in Earth atmosphere CO2 is responsible for no more then 1-5% of GHG effect. The major role belongs to water vapor, mostly in form of clouds. On different altitudes they have both cooling and heating effects. Real mechanism of such complicated self-regulating system is not nearly understood. For reference take a look at publications of two leading scientists:

and scroll down to the Greenhouse Effect chapters in both.

If you want to take a closer look at this controversial issue, I highly recommend:

Unfortunately, we have to do our own exhausting due diligence on that matter.

Shaun Williams


Further to Andrey's list I'd also recommend reading:



Thanks, man. Nice site. But this one is better:


In the short run there is nothing that can be done because there is nothing that can be done about the crushing needs of india and china both growing much fster then the west and each much bigger then all of the west combined.

Our only real hope is to in the short run come up with tech to allow china and india both massively dependant on coal to burn that coal cleanly and yet still afford to use the coal. In the long run the only option is a combo of bio and non biological sources for fuels that china and india can use. Becaiuse no mnatter how spiffy the tech if it doesnt solve china and indias energy needs it does nthing to stop global warming.

Harvey D.


It wouldn't be fair to let China and India do the per capita environmental damages we have done during the last 150 years?

Can you imagine the day when the per capita GHG emissions from China, India and Africa are at the current USA/Canada level?

The world CO2 level would already be way over the expected 2050 level of 550 ppm.

In other words, they must not do what we so willingly did but what we say they should?

We are in a very bad situation to point fingures at others.

Shaun Williams

You can add Australia to the top of that hypocrites list Harvey D. (Nicely put, by the way.) I know that the benefits of the Kyoto pact are limited but Australia and the US are showing extraordinary arrogance by refusing to sign up.

Roger Pham

Even though water vapor is responsible for the majority of GHG, the water cycle has been stable for milleniums, and the green-house effect of the earth atmosphere is essential to maintain temperatures conducive to living things on earth. It is the warming trend due to accumulation of CO2 that is disconcerting that will cause major disruptions now and in the future.

The evidences for global warming as the results of human activities are clear, and we should do all we can to reduce CO2 and methane and NOx releases in our daily activities. All these can be done with current technologies. We must drum up more understanding that will lead to more support and stronger will power to overcome addiction to fossil fuels.

Indeed, some said that the ice age was due to abnormal amount of particles in the atmosphere that reflected away sunlight. However, PM can cause other undesirable problems, so it is hardly a potential solution. The movement toward renewable energy is the sure bet that can help humanity over come petroleum exhaustion, clean up the atmosphere and at the same time, reversing global warming. 3 for 1 ain't bad a deal now, or is it?

Rafael Seidl

Harvey D. -

your logic is flawed on two counts:

a) we did not know about (the seriousness of) global warming until recently. China is just now really ramping up its industrial base, knowing full well how much damage it is causing.

b) we simply cannot afford to let China and other emerging economies to ignore climate change because it will affect us as well.

c) we need to give emerging economies an incentive to avoid repeating what we now know to be our worst mistakes (coal-fired power plants, low-efficiency cars & traffic management, cheap electric motors, excessive packaging etc.) Even if the West was in an ideal position to shame emerging economies regarding CO2 (and we are not), they would still prioritize economic growth over the environment because that's the phase of development that they are in. We would have to pay them in some way to change course.


___Reduction of NOX, via cleaner diesels (and improvments to other combustion engines) will help a bit. Capturing a big chunk of CH4, and using it for energy/chemicals, would also put a small downward dent in the graph. CFC's are starting to dissipate, and unless the developing world does not do their part, their effects will start to drop. Some gases that were developed, and are in use because of ban of CFCs in the developed world, are very potent GHGs, and attention must be paid to how they are handled and disposed of.
___As for CO2, more R&D&PDIR should be done towards improving efficiency of power plants, esp ones fired by fossil energy. Iron fertilization should be looked into for GHG mitigation, as well as expedited fishery/marine life recovery (when combined with sound/sensible fishery/environmental regulations, and enforcement).

R&D&PDIR: research & development & production, deployment, implementation, and reevaluation+repeat again.


"The evidences of global warming as the result of human influences are clear". Maybe I'm missing something, but they don't seem clear to me. It was just within the last couple of years (to my knowledge) that any study showed a conclusive increase in global temperature (.1~.2 degrees a decade) which was smaller than models predicted.

Could it not be that a global warming trend is increasing the CO2 levels due to reduced solubility in warmer ocean waters? I'd be interested in how they determine the source of the 35% CO2 increase.

Shaun Williams


I'm not sure what "logic" you are referring to in Harvey D's post. (Perhaps it's they same logic that makes a,b & c = "two counts"?)

It is logical that the nations that are producing the most GHGs should be doing the most to reduce them but we are not. Not even close.

Do you honestly believe that these Nations with developing economies are going to swallow; "Do as we say not as we do"? Not likely. Sure, we can pay them to reduce their environmental impact but we need to get our own act together first, that is logical.

Roger Pham

If you have doubt about GW, (not the US President, even he now accepts GW), just go the Artic, and there you will find unprecedented melting of the polar ice cap. The Greenland ice sheet is losing thickness much faster than winter precipitation can build it up.

You don't know for sure where the increase in CO2 level is coming from? Just look at the tail pipe of your car. Each car produces tons of CO2 yearly, and multiply that by 700 millions. Look at the smokestack of coal-fire power generating plant, and of every trucks, farm combines, jets airliner, etc...Our rate of increase in consumption of fossil fuels is accelerating at an unprecedented rate except for a few countries...

Putting all the facts together: CO2 is established as a GHG, CO2 level is rising at an unprecedented rate that correlates with all of human activities (such as fossil energy consumption), the earth is warming rapidly, far more rapidly than in any times in prehistoric geologic history, ...etc...etc...

And you still have doubts?


"I'd be interested in how they determine the source of the 35% CO2 increase."

Cosmic rays create isotopes in the upper atmosphere out of whatever gasses are present. CO2 in the atmpshere will slowly make isotopes of oxygen and carbon. Naturally carbon and oxygen stuck in the ground won't become isotopes. O2 in the atmosphere will also become isotopes. Since CO2 cycles it's carbon with plants, some of carbon in plants are for a long while isotopes.

So what's happening is that there has been an increase in CO2 where the oxygen part is an isotope but the carbon part is not.

CO2 upwelled from deep in the Earth cant have many isotopes, as it's half-life has likely long since expired, and there are no cosmic rays down there. CO2 from a forest fire or warm ocean surface water has lots of isotopes in both carbon and oxygen. So it must be somethign else which is causing isotope imbalanced CO2.

Fossil carbon burned with atmospheric oxygen would produce the imbalanced CO2 which we are measuring an increase of. The only obvious source of such burning is from human activity. And it is very obvious.


Concentration of CO2 in atmosphere is rising for about 150 years, yet currently slower than in 1970s. Most of the increase – 82% happened between 1960 and present (over 1900 level). It is perfectly correct to suppose that this rise is attributed to human activity – first deforestation and lately to combustion of fossil fuels. Yet there are other possibilities, like release of stored CO2 from ocean, which is by far the major player in global carbon balance. Science has not somehow conclusively decided what is the real reason. Yet during Earth history levels of CO2 in atmosphere varied widely, and at most times during last 3000 years concentration of CO2 in atmosphere was higher then now.

Global temperature varied dramatically during last 3000 years, from 25C at 5 c. bc to 22C at 5 c. ac, then to 24C at 12 c. ac (Medieval Climate Optimum), back to 22C at 16 c. (Little Ice Age), and since then was on slow uptrend to current 23C – about average for past 3000 years. Last 20 years global temperature is slightly decreasing.

Now, all these are scientific facts, proved by numerous researches and direct measurements from ground stations and satellite measurements of both Earth surface and troposphere air temperatures.

Hypothesis of man-made GW appeared based on data of sharp (yet not uncommon in the past) rise of global temperature during 1965-1985, co-incited with sharp rise of CO2 concentration. It was perfectly viable scientific hypothesis. Yet accurate analysis of time period including previous 10 years and from 1985 to present totally dismantled this correlation between global temperature and CO2 concentration. The one thing is perfectly clear: CO2 concentration rise could not be the driving force behind moderate trend of warming climate, because it is generally trailing behind increase in global temperature. It is not surprising, because if all CO2 is removed from atmosphere, it will retain about 98% of its GH ability.

Computer models predicting dramatic rise in global temperature failed completely to comply with observed Earth temperatures for last 25 years. Ocean level and thickness of polar ice caps remained unchanged (despite dramatic pictures of falling into the ocean icebergs, which is natural thing for icecaps at any time). Frequency of extreme weather events was slightly reduced, which is typical for slightly warmer climate.

I was trying to stick with real scientific data, not with hot air speculations.

The most comprehensive compilation of climate science findings during last 30 years I can find could be find at:

It has a lot of data and graphs, yet it is readable for non-professional in climate field. Note, however, that this document is supported by 19 000 scientists signed Oregon Petition (including 2600 scientists in the field of climatology, meteorology, and related science) to US government arguing cautious approach to drastic political measures concerning ratification of highly controversial Kyoto protocol. Yet it the best scientific revue of the GW issue, perfectly in line with hundreds of scientific publications I have read on the subject.

Regards, Andrey


Radiocarbon analysis of atmospheric CO2 you refer to does not rule out possibility that at least big part of recent atmospheric carbon surplus was not released from ocean due to moderate increase in global temperature we experiencing last 3 centuries. Released carbon was stored into ocean for substantial time, and has lost its initial radioactivity the same way fossil fuels did. Also huge amounts of absorbed/released by ocean on yearly basis atmospheric CO2 yet further complicates the picture.

Shaun Williams


After reading this;

I'm convinced you're either very gullible or a neo-con Trojan horse. The more verbose you are the less credibility you have.



The less arguments you have on the subject, the more offence you place on the messenger. Way to win the discussion, kiddo.

My credibility is defined by meaning of my comments, not by their voting support for prevailing opinion and offensive zeal against non-conformers.


sorry dude, but you lost all credibility with me by simply mentioning OISM.

And in regards to ocean carbon. Some of the carbon from the gas does get turned into a solid and is stored on the ocean floor for eons. But if it survives as a gas CO2 sucked into the ocean as a gas and then released as a gas cycles all the time and is usually static in terms of isotpes; there is no reason why the gas as a gas would stay put in the oceans for ten thousand plus years. There is nothing that I know of in the oceans which converts solid carbon into CO2 gas. Methane yes, but that is very different. Ice cores, sediments, and tree ring samples all point to the last ten thousand years (at least) as being fairly static in proportion of C13/C12 ratios. until the last 150 years; the same time we see an increase in CO2, the same time we see humans burning huge sums of fossil carbon making CO2.

One plus One has long since added up to equal Two.

Shaun Williams


You’re obviously struggling with plain English so I'll try to keep it simple. I was referring to YOUR comments, the more you regurgitate the same old GHG debunking propaganda the less credibility you have.

I find it interesting that your contributions to GCC started off as technical insights into combustion engine performance improvements but now you take any opportunity to white-ant any environmental discussions with unsubstantiated rubbish. I question your motives for doing so on a website like this.

Paul Dietz

there is no reason why the gas as a gas would stay put in the oceans for ten thousand plus years

On the short term, CO2 is absorbed into the ocean surface, acidifying it. On a slightly longer term, the ocean mixes, carrying some of the CO2 down to depth. On a somewhat longer term, the increased acidity is buffered by dissolution of calcium carbonate, increasing the holding capacity still more. On a very long term, new cations are added by weathering of silicates.

The calcium carbonate dissolution process is estimated to take thousands of years, if I understand correctly, and will enable the ocean to contain most of the CO2 we're currently emitting. It might be possible to increase the rate of this process artificially; there's a patent for a scheme that injects a water/powdered limestone/liquid CO2 emulsion under pressure into water more than 500 m deep. The limestone increases the density of the mixture, enabling it to be injected at a shallower depth than liquid CO2 alone.


I've visited most of the websites given, and to be honest, they all seem to have a politica agenda, one way or another, and its hard to take anything anyone says without a grain of salt.
The atmospheric isotope tracking is an interesting method of determining source and does seem to hold some validity as long as:

1. The rate of isotope formation is constant.
2. The only source of C12 rich carbon is coal, oil and other fossil fuels.

If anyone has links to journal articles (nothing from "organizations") on these subjects, I'd be interested.

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