Global observations of greenhouse gases show that CO2 and methane releases have broken all records in 2015. Cathrine Lund Myhre from NILU and CAGE is worried about the current development.
Text: Maja Sojtaric
World meteorological organization released its annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin this week, presenting the state of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in 2015. It shows that the concentrations of CO2 are above 400 parts per million on average across the globe.
One of the things that pushed the greenhouse gas release over the edge is El Nino, the natural climatic event that occurs every 2-7 years and alters climatic cycles on the planet. But even though El Nino is over, the effects of it will linger on, because the anthropogenic release is not decreasing. Concentrations of CO2 will probably not fall below that 400 ppm mark for generations, according to MIT Technology Review.
Similar increase is reported for methane release. Methane release has been increasing steadily since 2007, and reached a new high in 2015 (some 1845 parts per billion). Studies indicate that increased methane emissions from the wetlands in the tropics and anthropogenic sources at mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere are likely causes for the increase. 40 percent of global methane release is believed to come from natural sources such as wetlands. The rest comes from human activities, such as agriculture and industry.
Norwegian measurements may be higher
Cathrine Lund Myhre is a senior scientists at Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU), and project manager for MOCA project in which CAGE is a partner. She is worried about the development reported by WMO. NILU collects atmospheric measurements of greenhouse gases from, among others, its Zeppelin observatory on the Arctic archipelago Svalbard. Zeppelin has been collecting greenhouse gas measurements since 2001, and its remote location far away from contaminants, makes the station unique for surveillance of global trends. New measurements from NILU observatories are being sent to the Norwegian Environment Agency next week, and according to Lund Myhre may be higher than those reported by WMO.
“It will be interesting to see the results of our measurements compared to those published by WMO” she says in a press release from NILU. “Normally our measurements are slightly higher than the global average values, since the anthropogenic sources of release mainly are found in the Northern hemisphere”