Record High for Greenhouse Gases

The World Meteorological Organization finds that the atmospheric gases behind climate change reached a new record high in 2011.

By | November 21, 2012

Wikimedia, U.S. National Archives and Records AdministrationThe heat-capturing greenhouse gases that cause global warming soared to a record high of 390.9 parts per million in the planet’s atmosphere during 2011, according to the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, released this week (November 20). The level of the most abundant gas, carbon dioxide—which accounts for 85 percent of warming—is now 40 percent higher than it was in 1750, the hazy dawn of the industrial revolution.

“These billions of tonnes of additional carbon dioxide in our atmosphere will remain there for centuries, causing our planet to warm further and impacting on all aspects of life on earth,” the WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a statement. “Future emissions will only compound the situation.”

Though carbon dioxide—primarily released during fuel combustion—is the biggest culprit behind warming, other greenhouse gases are also rising. The level of methane in the atmosphere has more than doubled since pre-industrial eras, mostly due to cattle farming, landfills, and rice agriculture. And the levels of nitrous oxide, an ozone degrader that is 300 times better at capturing heat than carbon dioxide, rose slightly to a new record high of 324 parts per billion.

So far, carbon sinks, such as oceans and soils, have taken up nearly half of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by human activity, but this may not always be the case, Jarraud warned. “We have already seen that the oceans are becoming more acidic as a result of the carbon dioxide uptake, with potential repercussions for the underwater food chain and coral reefs,” he explained. “There are many additional interactions between greenhouse gases, Earth’s biosphere and oceans, and we need to boost our monitoring capability and scientific knowledge in order to better understand these.”

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You



Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo


Avatar of: kienhoa68


Posts: 37

November 24, 2012

I wonder what the gas emission rate was for the multitudes of Bison that

roamed the American plains.

Popular Now

  1. 2017 Top 10 Innovations
    Features 2017 Top 10 Innovations

    From single-cell analysis to whole-genome sequencing, this year’s best new products shine on many levels.

  2. Thousands of Mutations Accumulate in the Human Brain Over a Lifetime
  3. Antiviral Immunotherapy Comes of Age
    News Analysis Antiviral Immunotherapy Comes of Age

    T-cell therapies are not just for cancer. Researchers are also advancing immunotherapy methods to protect bone marrow transplant patients from viral infections. 

  4. The Rising Research Profile of 23andMe
    News Analysis The Rising Research Profile of 23andMe

    An exploration of the genetics of earlobe attachment is just the latest collaborative research project to come out of the personal genetic testing company.