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Global climate change

Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are unprecedented over the past 800,000 years

By Brett Anderson, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
4/24/2019, 12:19:47 PM

The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has currently reached a whopping 414 parts per million at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.

The overall growth rate of atmospheric CO2 also continues to trend higher.

This level of CO2 in the atmosphere has never been reached in at least the past 800,000 years on this planet, according to ice core data. Images courtesy the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

CO2 concentration over the past 10,000 years......

Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (NO2) are the most common greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is by far the greatest contributor to greenhouse warming since it is much more widespread compared to the other two gases.

Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, but it is not nearly as widespread in the atmosphere.

What is the greenhouse effect?

NOAA's Annual Greenhouse Gas Index ((AGGI), which has a very low uncertainty, takes into account all of the greenhouse gases and their combined warming influence on the planet.

Back in 2017, the AGGI was 1.41. This means that the warming influence of these gases has increased by 41 percent since 1990.

In terms of CO2 concentration equivalent, the atmosphere in 2017 contained 493 ppm, in which 405 ppm of that total was from CO2 alone.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or


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Global climate change