For the second year in a row, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have increased at a record rate, jumping 3 parts per million (ppm) in 2016, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. CO2 concentrations rose 3.03 ppm in 2015, making the last two years the first time that the greenhouse gas has risen more than 3 ppm in NOAA’s 59 years of monitoring, Climate Central reported.
The data was collected at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. Global CO2 concentrations currently stand at 406.42 ppm, and could reach 410 ppm later this spring, scientists estimate — a level never before seen in human history. Scientists said last year’s El Nino contributed slightly to the recent uptick, but that most of the increase was due to rising global greenhouse gas emissions.
“The rate of CO2 growth over the last decade is 100 to 200 times faster than what the Earth experienced during the transition from the last Ice Age,” Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network, said in a statement. “This is a real shock to the atmosphere.”
For more on atmospheric CO2 concentrations, read e360’s recent feature, How the World Passed a Carbon Threshold and Why It Matters.