Energy / Climate Change

January 29, 2018


World Greenhouse Gas Levels Reach New High in 2016

Keywords: Climate Change 

Image by byrev.

The United Nations' World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released the WMO annual Greenhouse Gases Bulletin No. 13 on October 30, 2017, reporting that the major greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) have continued to increase and globally averaged levels of each reached new highs in 2016. The bulletin also points out that recent CO2 levels have been increasing at an unprecedented speed.

The Japan Meteorological Agency runs the World Data Center for Greenhouse Gases (WDCGG), which gathers and analyzes data on greenhouse gases observed globally under WMO programs. The WMO annual bulletin was compiled based on data analyzed by the WDCGG on the average global concentration of greenhouse gases through 2016.

Globally averaged concentrations of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide in 2016 reached 403.3 parts per million (ppm), 1,853 parts per billion (ppb) and 328.9 ppb, respectively, which are the highest values ever since analysis began. These figures are equivalent to 145 percent, 257 percent, and 122 percent, respectively, of those in pre-industrial 1750. CO2 increased by 3.3 ppm from 2015 to 2016, marking the largest increase ever recorded.

The changes in CO2 concentrations during the past several hundred thousand years can be determined from air locked in ice sheets in the polar regions. According to the research, the concentration of CO2 rose by 80 ppm during a few thousand years at the end of the last ice age, while it has also increased by more than 80ppm during the last few decades. This speed of CO2 increase, 100 times faster than during the ice age, is unprecedented in the past several hundred thousand years, and so is the concentration level of 400 ppm.