CREAL. Centre for research in environmental epidemiology


Home > News

Back to newsNews

High CO2 concentration in the atmosphere

Friday, May 24th, 2013

The daily average concentration of carbon dioxide, the gas that most contributes to the greenhouse effect, has surpassed for the first time, on May 9, 400 parts per million (ppm), since measurements began in 1958, according to researchers the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Several researchers specializing in global warming and emissions of greenhouse gases warn of failure in the emission control program and if it continued increasing in the same may it would be irreparable. These measures come from the sensors located on the top of Mauna Loa, the largest island of Hawaii, landmark in the study of the evolution of these emissions as the oldest continuous CO2 measurement station in the world.

Carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by fossil fuels burning and other human activities is the main significant greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. Its concentration has been increasing every year. The growth rate has been accelerated since measurements began, about 0.7 ppm per year in the late 1950s to 2.1 ppm per year during the last 10 years.

The first time of a higher concentration of 400 ppm carbon dioxide detection was in the Arctic last year, and it was also exceeded the level hourly readings at Mauna Loa, but the average daily reading had not yet passed the concentration of 400 ppm.

During the last 800,000 years, CO2 has fluctuated between about 180 ppm during ice ages and 280 ppm during interglacial warm periods, like the present period. The current rate of increase in CO2 emissions is more than 100 times faster than the one that took place at the last ice age. According to experts, it will become common in different parts of the world to register a CO2 concentration exceeding 400 ppm at any time of year.

According to NOAA scientists that increase is not a surprise since "there is evidence that the strong growth of global CO2 emissions is driving the acceleration from the fossil fuels burning like coal, oil and natural gas."


Communications Manager:
Raül Toran

(+34) 93 214 73 33
(+34) 696 912 841


ISGlobal - Campus Mar · Doctor Aiguader, 88 · E-08003 Barcelona · Tel +34 93 214 73 00 · Fax +34 93 214 73 02 · e-mail: RSS


Scientific context: