CO2 is still building upThe vast majority of the extra carbon dioxide and heat being added into the Earth’s biosphere ends up in the oceans, where heat has been building up since the early 1970s.What the ocean doesn’t take up, is left to accumulate in the atmosphere.There are two long-term records of the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, measures as parts of CO2 per million parts of the atmosphere (ppm).Instruments at Mauna Loa in Hawaii have been showing the accumulation of CO2 since the 1950s.Last year though saw the biggest jump ever since records started. CO2 is now above 400ppm there.Australia holds the other long-term record of CO2 in the atmosphere – taken at the aptly-named Cape Grim, in Tasmania.Here, the very latest readings for February 2016 show CO2 at 398.71ppm. At some point in the coming months, the Cape Grim data will also tip above 400 ppm.If you want records, then these readings in Hawaii and Tasmania have been breaking them pretty much year on year for decades.
n an effort to curb global climate change, policy makers and scientists agreed in 2010 that the total levels of CO2 emissions should not exceed 350 parts per million. That magic number would still lead to an average planet-wide temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius, but it would at least stave off the worst effects from a warming planet. But with CO2 levels surpassing 400 parts per million for several days last month according to data collected at a Hawaiian monitoring station, politicians are being urged this week to draft a backup plan at their meeting in Bonn, Germany. The authors of a new study from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs are urging UN envoys to establish a new target that would be more realistic in light of recent discoveries.