Saturday, February 10, 2018

Global CO2 Hits 405.58 ppm in November, 2017 - New Monthly High

On February 5th, the latest NOAA ESRL Global CO2 update was released. The preliminary November 2017 concentration was reported at 405.58 ppm. This is 2.06 ppm above November 2016 and a new high for the month.


Since November 1980, the world has experienced a 19.7% increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration. If we assume a pre-industrial CO2 concentration of 278 ppm, then we have undergone a 46% increase.


The annual, five-year and decadal CO2 concentrations remain at historically high rates of increase. The annual change had dipped under 2 ppm during the past three months. The last time that had occurred (less than a 2 ppm increase) was December, 2014. The five year increase rate is back over 12 ppm, a rate first reached in November, 2013. Since November 2007, global CO2 has climbed over 22 ppm, a rate first achieved in August, 2016, and has mostly remained above the 22 ppm increase rate since that month.


If emissions continue at this rate we will experience our first month above 410 ppm in 2019. Here are the historical rates of increase for each 5 and 10 ppm based upon MLO and Global data as it became available, and the table, including an estimate for 2019.

We have blown past any CO2 concentration recorded in the past 400,000 years.
if we continue this rate of increase, we will add about 10 ppm every five years, and even at faster rates will soon move the planet into dangerous climate disruption territory.

While speculative, these business as usual or continued accelerating increases will severely damage global social stability by its impact. One can hope that the international community will soon take steps to slow and reverse the 2% GHG increase which occurred in 2017.
Source: Global Carbon Project

The struggle to balance economic growth while lowering emissions is difficult but necessary since climate sensitivity is creating social destabilization faster than anticipated. More on this another time.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Global CH4 Hits New Monthly High in March, 2017

The March, 2017 global CH4 monthly mean data was released by NOAA ESRL on June 5th. The mean was 1847.8 ppb, up 5.7 ppb above March, 2016.

Source: NOAA ESRL:

The trend of increasing CH4 since early 2007 remains intact, although this has slowed somewhat since the recent high increases of 2014-2016. 

When one looks for milestones in the increases, assuming each 25 ppb increase as a milestone, the trend has been highly variable.

While earlier milestone increases were achieved quickly, there was a long slow down from 1998 to 2007, which delayed reaching 1800 ppb until September, 2010. We have seen another acceleration between 1825-1850 ppb, that may interrelate with recent ocean warming, rice or cattle production. There is still considerable science discussion on causes for the increase since 2007, and perhaps the recent slow down in those increases.

The one, five and ten year trends depict the decline from the recent record increases in 2016. The one year monthly mean change was 5.7 ppb over March, 2016. The five year increase was 37.7 ppb over March, 2012. The decadal change was 68.2 ppb above March, 2007.

Since March 1984, global monthly mean methane has increased by 12.71% or 208.30 ppb. 

While the global monthly mean seems to slow down this month, stations around the Arctic seem to indicate that the acceleration in increases experienced since 2014 continue. Once the 2016 data is verified, then a monthly comparison can be made to see how different the trends might be for each compared to a global monthly mean. For now, a few graphs demonstrate this preliminary finding.

Here Mauna Loa CH4 is substituted as representative of the global trend. The change in the trend in late 2016 into 2017 mimics the global change. However, this is not what is revealed in the Arctic data.
The Barrow CH4 portrays an acceleration of the increase through fall, 2016 and spring, 2017.
Similarly, the Alert CH$ readings depict a similar concentration increase.
The Ny Alesund trend remains generally constant from 2014 through 2017 to date.
Finally, Tiksi also reflects the same accelerating trend from fall, 2016 to spring, 2017.
Given that all the high north latitude stations surrounding the Arctic reflect the same trend change, it seems reasonable to conclude that something is happening to increase CH4 release either in the Arctic Ocean waters, its sea ice cover, or in the permafrost regions in both Russia and North America. Either option presents the possibility of a climate feedback that would be worrisome for the future, if it continues.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Global CO2 Hits New High in March 2017

The reported NOAA ESRL global CO2 for March, 2017 hit a new record high of 406.05 ppm, which was 2.47 ppm higher than March, 2016.


This new milestone continues the ongoing increases of atmospheric CO2 that has been reported since 1980. 

Source: NOAA ESRL and Apocalypse4Real

The monthly CO2 increase of 2.47 ppm over March, 2016 was the record 27th consecutive month of increases of at least 2 ppm over the prior year. This reflects the acceleration of atmospheric CO2 increases through the last three years, when human emissions supposedly leveled off. The increase of 2.47 ppm is lower than the blistering 3+ ppm monthly increases every month of 2016.

The 5 year change was 12.52 ppm over March, 2012, which is the record 13th month of five year increases over 12 ppm, a level never reached before March, 2016.

The 10 year global CO2 change was 22.27 ppm higher than March 2006, an unprecedented 9th month above a 22 ppm increase over the same month a decade earlier.

Source: NOAA ESRL and Apocalypse4Real

It is this accelerating achievement of global CO2 milestones that caught my attention this month.  If we incorporate Mauna Loa data, beginning in March, 1958, with the global record commencing in January, 1980, the increasing pace of toppling milestones becomes glaringly apparent.  

The 5 ppm milestones fall faster, beginning in the 1980's. With the most recent 5 ppm increase occurring in only 22 months, between March, 2015 and January, 2017. Even if a slowdown in the increase occurs, it is not unreasonable to assume that by March, 2019, we will globally surge through 410 ppm.

Source: NOAA ESRL, Apocalypse4Real

If one steps back to the increases by 10 ppm, some of the variability smooths out, but the trend of decreasing time frames to each milestone is still a sobering slide. Given the sustained rates of increase, March, 2019 is presumed to be the month we reach 410 ppm globally, and we will have reached that milestone in only 48 months.

Source: NOAA ESRL, Apocalypse4Real

Here is the historical and estimated data graphed above:
SOURCE: NOAA ESRL, Apocalypse4Real

With this historical data in mind, what does this portend for future increases? 

If we hypothesize that the acceleration from 390 to 400 ppm was an anomaly, and that 60 months better represents the future rate of 10 ppm CO2 increases, we reach 410 ppm by 2020, 470 ppm by 2050 and double CO2 from the pre-industrial levels, reaching 570 ppm by 2100.

However, if the lower trend rate is assumed, adding another 10 ppm globally every 48 months, we reach 490 ppm by about 2050, and 610 ppm around 2100. 

if we do not control global CO2, and a tipping point is reached that leads to a 36 month 10 ppm increase in CO2 (which was the rate of global CO2 increase during 2016), then the results are deeply troubling. CO2 potentially reaches 520 ppm by 2050, and 690 ppm by about 2100.

Here are the 60 month and 48 month and a 36 month "worst case" trended 10 ppm milestone increases:

Source: Apocalypse4Real

I am hopeful that steps taken by the international community will slow these trajectories during the next 10 years. 

Of course this will not include efforts by the current US administration, who have earned the notorious stigma of making the US a climate pariah state.

Finally, the 406.05 ppm of March, 2017 is 19.62% higher that March, 1980. We are edging closer to a 20% increase in atmospheric CO2 in less than 40 years. The impacts will be felt far into the future.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Global CO2 Record High for February, 2017 and 2016 Annual Growth

On May 5th, 2017, NOAA/ESRL released its February, 2017 global carbon dioxide report. It placed the global mean at 405.75 ppm or 2.74 ppm above February, 2016.

The Annual Growth Increase Trends

NOAA ESRL calculates the annual CO2 growth trend by averaging the December and January readings to mark the average at the end and beginning of a year. This method is helpful, yet it over and under calculates the growth rate versus actual annual mean for each entire year. This results in significant differences between this approach and the actual annual mean for any year compared to prior years. 

This graphic illustrates that difference and how significant it is for 2016. In the following graph, the blue line represents the annual growth rate as depicted on the NOAA ESRL Global Monthly Mean Carbon Dioxide page:

The red line represents the actual annual growth means for each full year.

While the current NOAA ESRL methodology results in an annual growth of 2.90 ppm over 2015, the actual annual mean data comparing all of 2016 to 2015, results in a whopping 3.44 ppm increase. Both numbers will change as more samples are added and validated, but it is likely the actual annual mean 2016 CO2 growth rate will remain well above a 3 ppm increase for the first time in modern history.

The Global CO2 Monthly Mean Trend

This continues the atmospheric CO2 increase trend observed since the first readings in March, 1958 at Mauna Loa, (MLO) Hawaii. Using the March, 1958 MLO monthly mean as a global proxy, CO2 has increased 90.04 ppm or 28.53%.

The NOAA ERSL global monthly mean data is available beginning in January. 1980. The global mean CO2 has increased by 66.60 ppm since February, 1980 or 19.64%.

What is less apparent in this depiction is the CO2 increase acceleration since 1958. If we consider the MLO and global mean CO2 record combined, we are achieving 10 ppm "milestone" increases with worrisome acceleration.

The one, five and 10 year Global CO2 Monthly Mean Increase

If one considers the annual, five and ten year global monthly mean change in CO2, those trends are clear. The monthly mean of 405.75 ppm for February, 2017 was 2.74 ppm higher than 2016, 12.75 ppm higher than 2012, and 22.43 ppm higher than February, 2007. The following graph depicts these trends.

Time Required to Reach Five and 10 ppm "Milestone" is Shortening

However, if one considers how quickly we achieve milestones of either 5 or 10 ppm increases in global CO2, the trends towards shorter times to reach each is apparent and concerning. 

Reaching 10 ppm Increase "Milestones"

For example, MLO passed 320 ppm in May, 1960. It took 12 years or 144 months to reach 330 ppm in May, 1972. Globally, we reached 340 ppm eight years later, in May, 1980. It took only seven years to reach 350 ppm, in 1987. 

Moreover, from 1995 to 2017, we have observed an increase of 10 ppm about every 60 months or five years. However this rate has accelerated through time. Currently we are on track to conservatively increase global CO2 from 400 to 410 ppm in 48 months - four years or less. More on potential future increases later.

Reaching 5 ppm Increase "Milestones"

If we consider how quickly we reach 5 ppm increases, the trend is even more apparent. While MLO went from 315 to 320 ppm in a mere 26 months from 1958 to 1960, it took 84 months to increase to 325 ppm, from May 1960 to May 1967. That shortened to 60 months to go from 325 to 330 ppm, by May 1972. That time frame decreased again to 47 months to increase from 340 to 345 ppm, by April 1984. 

What is of real concern is that since 1995, every increase of 5 ppm has taken less that 36 months - three years. The last increase in 5 ppm, from  400 to 405 ppm, took only 22 months. That is the shortest time for any global monthly mean 5 ppm increase. 

With this acceleration, even with allowance for the slowdown in CO2 increases after an El Nino effect has ended, one can conservatively estimate that we will hit 410 ppm by March, 2019, only 48 months since blowing through 400 ppm. Some trace gas monitoring stations have already measured readings well above 410 ppm in the Arctic, and MLO has had daily readings above 410 ppm this year for the first time.

Here is the full table from NOAA ESRL Mean Monthly MLO and Global CO2 "milestones."

Source: Apocalypse4Real, NOAA ESRL

What Have We Gotten Ourselves Into?

After looking at how we continue to experience accelerating global CO2 monthly means, and how we are shortening the time frames to achieve each one, here is a simple set of hypothetical projections based upon various rates of hitting future 10 ppm milestones.

The first (left table) assumes a return to a lower rate of increase, a 60 month, or five year time frame for each 10 ppm "milestone". 

The second (middle table) captures the current rate we seem to be moving towards, a 10 ppm increase every  48 months, or four years. 

However, the change of 2016 from 2015 was a rate that would see us meet a 10 ppm increase every 36 months or so, about every three years. The right table depicts that rate of change.

These are like making a choice between poisons for our global community, slow or fast acting. 

Source: Apocalypse4Real

If we revert to a 60 month increase for each 10 ppm, we double CO2 to 560 ppm from the pre-industrial concentration of 280 ppm by the end of the century, about the year 2095. 

If we move to a 48 month increase rate, we hit that doubling, 560 ppm, by 2079. 

If we continue to experience CO2 increases from human sources and natural feed backs, and drop to a 36 month time frame for each 10 ppm increase, we hit 560 ppm by 2063. 

This is what is at stake for the future generations, a warmer and more at risk world. Perhaps we should not call these "milestones" but "millstones."

The real problem? This is only CO2. The real picture for all trace gases has us way beyond the Paris Agreement today. That is for a future post.