CO2 level reaches record high in 2016: WMO

  • According to the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin level of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the atmosphere has reached a record high. globally averaged concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere reached to 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 2015.
  • It is expected to surge again to new records in 2016 on the back of the very powerful El Niño event.

Key Facts:

• This is for the first time CO2 levels have reached the 400 ppm barrier on a global average basis for the entire year.

• Besides, longest-established GHGs monitoring station at Mauna Loa, Hawaii predicts that CO2 concentrations will stay above 400 ppm for whole of 2016 and not dip below that level for many generations.

• There was a 37% increase in radiative forcing (the warming effect on our climate) because of long-lived GHGs such as CO2, methane and nitrous oxide (N2O) released from industrial, agricultural and domestic activities between 1990 and 2015.

Relation between CO2 emissions and El Niño event:

• According to WMO, the growth spurt in CO2 was fuelled by the El Niño event, which started in 2015 and had a strong impact well into 2016.
• The El Niño event had triggered droughts in tropical regions and reduced the capacity of “sinks” like forests, vegetation and the oceans to absorb CO2.
• These sinks currently absorb about half of CO2 emissions but now there is a risk that they may become saturated.
• Once these sinks become saturated it will increase the fraction of emitted CO2 which stays in the atmosphere.

About World Meteorological Organization (WMO):

WMO is an intergovernmental organization and specialised agency of the UN for meteorology (weather and climate), operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences. It is a member of the United Nations Development Group.
• Established: It had originated from the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), which was founded in 1873.
• Membership: 191 Member States and Territories.
• Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.

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