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Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels highest on record in 2006

 

   
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The WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin issued at the end of November reveals that globally averaged carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere reached their highest levels ever recorded in 2006. At 381.2 parts per million (ppm), they were up 0.53 per cent from 379.2 ppm in 2005.

The information is based on observations from the WMO global carbon dioxide and methane monitoring network, a comprehensive climate network that contributes to the work of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The latest bulletin was issued just before the 50th anniversary of the Global Carbon Dioxide Record Symposium and Celebration (Hawaii, 28-30 November 2007), co-sponsored by WMO, and the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, 3-24 December 2007).

After water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are the three most prevalent greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. Greenhouse gases are major drivers of global warming and climate change. Nitrous oxide concentrations also reached record highs in 2006, up 0.25 per cent from 319.2 parts per billion (ppb) to 320.1ppb. Methane remained almost unchanged at 1782 ppb.

The rise of 36 per cent in carbon dioxide concentrations since the late 1700s has been generated largely by emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels. Around one-third of nitrous oxide discharged into the air is from human activities such as fuel combustion, biomass burning, fertilizer use and some industrial processes. Fossil fuel exploitation, rice agriculture, biomass burning, landfills and ruminant farm animals account for some 60 per cent of atmospheric methane, with natural processes responsible for the remainder.

Accurate global atmospheric observations by 44 WMO Members are archived and distributed by the World Data Centre for Greenhouse Gases hosted by the Japan Meteorological Agency.

WMO prepares the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin in cooperation with the World Data Centre for Greenhouse Gases, the Global Atmosphere Watch Scientific Advisory Group for Greenhouse Gases and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory.

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