PARIS – After heat-trapping greenhouse gases reached record highs in 2011, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said there has been a 30-percent increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on climate – between 1990 and 2011.
In its annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin
, the WMO noted that about 375 billion tons of carbon have been emitted by humans into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2
) since the industrial revolution. Atmospheric measurements indicate that about half of this CO2
remains in the atmosphere and that the ocean and terrestrial sinks have consistently increased.
Source: WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin
More specifically, the amount of CO2
in the atmosphere reached 390.9 parts per million in 2011, or 140 percent of the pre-industrial level of 280 parts per million, WMO said. Similarly, atmospheric methane reached a new high of about 1813 parts per billion in 2011, or 259 percent of the pre-industrial level, due to increased emissions from anthropogenic sources.
O atmospheric concentration in 2011 was about 324.2 parts per billion, which is 1.0 ppb above the previous year and 120 percent of the pre-industrial level. Its impact on climate, over a 100 year period, is 298 times higher than equal emissions of carbon dioxide. It also plays a strong role in the destruction of the stratospheric ozone layer, WMO said.
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“Until now, carbon sinks have absorbed nearly half of the carbon dioxide humans emitted in the atmosphere, but this will not necessarily continue in the future," said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.
Jarraud continued: "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. 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."See related links:Global CO2 emissions up 3% in 2011
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