06 Mar 2013:
Atmospheric CO2 Concentration
Shows Second-Largest Annual Increase
The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased by 2.67 parts per million in 2012
, marking the second-biggest jump since levels were first recorded in 1959 and decreasing the chances that the planet will avoid a dangerous temperature increase of 3.6 degrees F (2 C) or higher, U.S. scientists say. The new data, collected in Mauna Loa, Hawaii, suggests that levels of heat-trapping CO2 are now just under 395 parts per million (ppm) and could hit 400 ppm within two years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The one-year increase was second only to 1998, when CO2 concentrations jumped by 2.84 parts per million; pre-industrial atmospheric concentrations of CO2 were 280 ppm. Pieter Tans, a senior scientist at NOAA's Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory, attributed the latest spike to an increase in fossil fuel burning globally, particularly in China. “It’s just a testament to human influence being dominant,” he told the Associated Press. Based on current trends, global temperatures could climb another 2.5 to 4.5 degrees F within several decades, said John Reilly, co-director of Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.
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Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s unspoiled coral reefs. View the gallery.
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The Warriors of Qiugang
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A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.