Near-record CO2 rise expected in 2019
Climate scientists expect to see one of the biggest increases of carbon in the atmosphere that has ever been recorded this year.
The UK’s Met Office said today that a projected rise in greenhouse gas emissions, and fall in CO2 absorbed by plants, soil and other ‘carbon sinks’ were behind the forecasts.
In 62 years of measurements, only 2015-2016 and 1997-1998 are expected to have had higher annual rises in atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentrations than what will be seen in 2019.
The Met Office warned that years with a warmer tropical Pacific cause many regions to become hotter and drier, limiting the ability of plants to grow and soak up carbon.
“This year we expect these carbon sinks to be relatively weak, so the impact of record high human-caused emissions will be larger than last year,” professor Richard Betts of the Met Office Hadley Centre, said.
“Since 1958, monitoring in Hawaii has registered around a 30% increase in the concentration of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere, and the increase would have been even larger if it were not for natural carbon sinks.”
The Met Office released a graph detailing atmospheric carbon forecasts from the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii since 2016, along with observed data from the Scripps Institute, which is shown below:
It said forecasts suggest that the annual average atmospheric CO₂ concentration at Mauna Loa will be 2.75 ± 0.58 parts per million (ppm) higher in 2019 than in 2018.
Average CO2 concentration for the year is forecast at 411.3 ± 0.6 ppm, reaching a peak of 414.7 ± 0.6 ppm in May, before temporarily dropping back to 408.1 ppm ± 0.6 in September, and rising again at the end of the year.
“The Mauna Loa graph of atmospheric CO₂ is a thing of beauty, but also a stark reminder of human impact on climate,” professor Betts continued.
“Looking at the monthly figures, it’s as if you can see the planet ‘breathing’ as the levels of CO2 fall and rise with seasonal cycle of plant growth and decay in the northern hemisphere.
“But each year’s CO2 is higher than the last, and this will keep happening until humans stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.”
Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM