Trends in Atmospheric CO2 (Carbon Dioxide)
Mauna Loa and Surface Stations
(Source: NOAA's Earth Systems Research Laboratory (ESRL)
CO2 rises to 0.000404 globally in February 2016. Scroll down to see the data from the network of observing stations or see the full data record at Mauna Loa. The meaning of this information (and the future of all climate models based on it) became VERY cloudy on 31 December 2009 with the ScienceNews acknowledgment of work by Wolfgang Knorr that shows "No Rise of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Fraction in Past 160 Years"
The implications of this have yet to be assimilated by the modeling community. This does not mean that CO2 proportion is not rising but rather that the proportion not being assimilated has not changed since 1850. Since most of the projections we are concerned with are based on the IPCC IS92a model, or one of its cohorts, and the concept of CO2 sink saturation, we should give the information on its impacts a second look. Certainly the rapid acceleration of the IS92a model is missing from the NOAA data plotted below. In fact, if we wonder if the last 8 or 12 years are representative of the future, we might imagine a downward slope in the growth rate. This could be real as rising prices cut usage and lead to economic distress. It could also mean that more CO2 is being absorbed by the ocean, which might not bode well in the light of concerns over ocean acidification. However, it may be that the ocean is converting and storing the CO2 as calcium carbonate in the form of oyster and clam shells, for example.
(Chart Source: NOAA's Earth Systems Research Laboratory (ESRL)
Analysis: CO2 continues to rise, but it is a very small part of the atmosphere at only 0.000394 globally. Argon is 30 times more abundant.
The average growth over the last 30 years has been 1.66 ppm (parts per million) and for the last 10 years it has been higher at 1.87 ppm,. However, 3 of the last 4 years have been below this average. In contrast one of the most commonly used emissions scenarios IPCC 1992a (IS92a--business as usual), projects a much more rapid rate of growth that would have us at 712 ppm in the year 2100. This would require the atmosphere to more than double the present rate of growth of CO2, yet the growth rate seems to be leveling off. The meaning of this information (and the future of all climate models based on it) became VERY cloudy on 31 December 2009 with the ScienceNews acknowledgment of work by Wolfgang Knorr that shows "No Rise of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Fraction in Past 160 Years" . The implications of this have yet to sink in the modeling community.
For several years, we have conducted an informal poll, asking what percent of the atmosphere is CO2? No one has ever guessed at lower than 5% and the highest has been 60%, and nearly everyone of these people have been highly educated, concerned citizens. One has to wonder why people are not told the proportion of CO2 of concern. It is likely because a doubling to 0.07% would not seem very impressive.
Our view is that the sun is probably the big gorilla in the room, just like the furnace in your home. This does not mean it is OK to foul our nest through polluting the environment with soot and hazardous chemicals.
This page updated or reviewed in April 2016