Wednesday, November 30

The layer of gases that cause climate change is denser than ever

The layer of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is denser than ever since it was measured, and also in 2021 it grew rapidly, according to global measurements by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The Arctic continues unstoppable on its downward slope of melting ice

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The network of stations has detected that the average concentration of CO2 last year around the world reached 415.7 parts per million (ppm). That of methane (CH4) jumped to 1,908 ppm and that of nitrous oxide (N2O) reached 334.5 ppm. All of this makes up the increasingly concentrated Dome gas that traps bounced solar radiation, reheats the planet and thus alters the climate.

“It is another fateful warning of climate change,” summarizes the WMO in its annual bulletin, released this Wednesday. In fact, far from clear up that gaseous crust, “levels reach new highs.” The more gases expelled by human activities are concentrated in the atmosphere, the longer they will act as a planetary greenhouse and the longer they will take to dissipate. Its life range goes from hundreds of years of CO2 to tens of CH4.

The Organization explains that, in addition, the increases in gas concentration in 2021 were very large when compared to other years. The data reflects the largest year-on-year rise in methane since it was measured. It jumped almost 1% between 2020 and 2021. “The reason for this exceptional increase is not clear, but it seems to be the result of both biological processes and those caused by human activities,” summarized in the WMO. There is 262% more methane in the atmosphere right now than there was during pre-industrial times, around 1750.

Carbon dioxide also hit an acceleration as its concentration increased by 2.5 ppm, 0.61% compared to the previous year, it rose more than the average of what it has been rising year-on-year. Concentration is 149% higher than pre-industrial levels.

The data reflects the largest year-on-year rise in methane since it was measured. It jumped almost 1% between 2020 and 2021. Right now, there is 262% more methane in the atmosphere than during pre-industrial times, around 1750

Of all the CO2 that has been released into the atmosphere since 2011, approximately half has remained there, acting as a greenhouse. 26% was swallowed by the oceans and 29% by the biosphere (forests, peat bogs…). The problem is that the deterioration of terrestrial and marine ecosystems put an end to this sink action. “In some parts of the world it has been detected that instead of sinks they have become sources of CO2,” the bulletin clarifies.

The third gas that is systematically measured is nitrous oxide, 43% of which comes from human actions such as the use of agricultural fertilizers or the burning of biomass. Its growth is also accelerating. It is 149% more abundant in the atmosphere today than it was in 1750.

They retain more and more solar radiation

What the data from the Global Atmosphere Watch Program shows is that, ultimately, there are more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere each year. It is the consequence, to a great extent, of human activities: burning of fossil fuels, melting of permafrost, super-intensive agriculture and livestock… and, at the same time, they are the physical cause of climate change on the planet.

The radiative forcing that they cause, the retention of solar radiation that should go out into outer space after bouncing off the Earth, has increased by 50% between 1990 and 2021. That energy is what overheats the planet.

“The continued increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases tells us that we are going in the wrong direction,” said WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas on Wednesday. “Once again, the enormous challenge and the vital need to adopt urgent measures to reduce emissions have become clear”, he concluded.