31 May 2012:
C02 Milestone Reached
As Levels Hit 400 PPM Across Arctic
For the first time in at least 800,000 years, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have crossed the threshold of 400 parts per million (ppm)
, with stations across the Arctic recording these
record levels, the Associated Press
reports. Global concentrations have hit 395 ppm, but in recent months levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere surpassed 400 ppm in the Arctic because of the lack of CO2-absorbing vegetation in the Far North in winter and spring. Pre-industrial levels of CO2 were about 280 ppm, and numerous scientists said that hitting the 400 ppm threshold was a worrisome sign that industrial society continues to emit planet-warming greenhouse gases at an alarming rate. Jim Butler, global monitoring director at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Lab in Colorado, called the new high a “troubling milestone.” Carnegie Institution ecologist Chris Field, a leader of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said, “It is an indication that we’re in a different world.” Levels exceeding 400 ppm have been recorded this spring in Alaska, Greenland, Norway, and Iceland.
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Photographer Peter Essick documents the swift changes wrought by global warming in Antarctica, Greenland, and other far-flung places. View the gallery.
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In a Yale Environment 360
video, photographer Pete McBride documents how increasing water demands have transformed the Colorado River, the lifeblood of the arid Southwest. Watch the video.