Monday, April 27, 2009

Carbon Dioxide Increasing at a Record Rate in the Arctic

Measurements of atmospheric CO2 levels in northern Norway show that last week the levels hit a peak of over 397 parts per million (ppm). What was even more alarming than the actual level was the rate of increase because compared with the 2008 peak level the increase was more than 2.5 ppm. Professor of Atmospheric Physics at the Norwegian Polar Institute, Johan Strom, told The Guardian that “It is not the level of CO2 that is the problem, because the earth will adapt. What is very worrying is the speed of change. Levels [at this measuring station] are now increasing 2-3 ppm a year. The rate of increase is much faster than only 10-20 years ago. You can almost see the changes taking place. Never before have CO2 levels increased so fast.” The level of CO2 increased annually by about 1.5 ppm from 1970 to 2000 but has accelerated to about 2.1 ppm during this decade. The measurements obtained in the Arctic are typically a little higher than those obtained in Hawaii by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). A climate scientist from the Met Office Hadley Center in Britain, Dr. Vicky Pope, said that “These are quite large numbers. It sounds like this is an Arctic phenomenon. It fits with the general increase in emissions. You would expect the concentrations of CO2 to grow.” Despite all this alarming information we still hear reports that leaders in China and India and even in the United States contend that coal needs to play a large role in meeting future energy needs. This vision of the future which includes more coal burning is not very promising.

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