Tag Archives: Scripps

Chart of the Day, 10 March 2015: The Stability of Carbon Sinks and Sources

About time we revisited the Big Number which sits on the right side of my blog: the atmospheric concentration of CO2. I dub this “the most important risk indicator in the world” since it will have a greater impact on humanity than anything else I can think of (barring the earth getting hit by a stray astroid or such).

The monthly average is back over 400 parts per million (ppm) as of February. As a reminder, the cyclicality is a result of the northern hemisphere (which accounts for 65% of global land mass) plant growth and decay cycle. Source for the two charts below: NOAA (click for larger images).

Recently Monthly Mean CO2 jpeg

The annual average year-on-year continues to grind up despite the fact that the first United Nations Climate Conference of Parties (COP) took place back in 1995.

Annual Mean Growth Rate of CO2 jpeg

COP 21 will take place in Paris this December, yet the above chart demonstrates that little progress has been made in mitigating carbon emissions.

In a blog post I wrote three years ago called “A Fraction for Your Thoughts” I highlighted a hidden risk contained in the above chart: the stability of the carbon sink and source relationship. As you can see from the chart below taken from the Global Carbon Budget 2014 (click for larger image), only a portion of emissions remain in the atmosphere. Continue reading

Atmospheric CO2 Data Watch: Dec 2012 Release

Atmospheric CO2 concentration is the world’s leading risk indicator.

Every month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a U.S. government federal agency releases, releases data on the concentration of atmospheric CO2 as measured by the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. This is the longest continuous monthly measurement of CO2 and dates back to March 1958, when 315.70 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 was recorded.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) uses the year 1750 as the pre-industrialisation reference point, at which date the atmospheric concentration of CO2 was approximately 280 ppm according to ice core measurements.Key numbers relating to release:

  • December 2012 = 394.39 ppm, +2.60 ppm year-on-year
  • Twelve Month Average = 393.84 ppm, +2.19 ppm year-on-year
  • Twelve month average over pre–industrial level = +40.7%

Decadal CO2 Change jpg

Continue reading