411.15: Mauna Loa CO2 hits another record

Sensors high atop Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory  have recorded another unwelcome atmospheric milestone.

The monthly carbon dioxide average for May 2018 hit 411.15 parts per million (PPM) at the Mauna Loa. That’s the highest monthly average ever recorded since observations began in 1958.

Keeling Curve, via Scripps Institute on Oceanography

Mauna Loa is home to the world’s longest continuous CO2 record.

Mauna Loa Observatory. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

And it’s not just the level of carbon dioxide that’s getting scientists’ attention.

The rate CO2 is increasing in our atmosphere is accelerating. The average CO2 increase was 1.6 ppm per year in the 1980s. It’s now increasing at a rate of 2.2 ppm per year during the past decade.

Yale Environment 360 elaborates.

“Many of us had hoped to see the rise of CO2 slowing by now, but sadly that isn’t the case,” said Ralph Keeling, director of the University of California San Diego’s Scripps CO2 Program, which maintains the Mauna Loa record with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “It could still happen in the next decade or so if renewables replace enough fossil fuels.”

“CO2 levels are continuing to grow at an all-time record rate because emissions from coal, oil, and natural gas are also at record high levels,” Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network, said in a statement. “Today’s emissions will still be trapping heat in the atmosphere thousands of years from now.”

Study: Slower hurricanes extending storm conditions

It makes sense to us as meteorologists. Slow the steering currents down and storms linger longer, delivering heavier rain and more flooding. The Washington Post’s Chris Mooney has a good write-up on some new science that explains what we’ve been seeing on our daily weather maps.

Americans: NASA’s top priority should be climate monitoring 

63 percent of Americans believe NASA’s most important work is climate science.

Here’s more on the data from a new Pew Research Poll.

When asked to rate the importance of nine of these missions, majorities of Americans say a top priority for NASA should be monitoring key parts of the Earth’s climate system (63%) or monitoring asteroids and other objects that could potentially collide with the Earth (62%).

Slightly fewer than half of Americans (47%) believe that conducting basic scientific research to increase knowledge and understanding of space should be a top priority, with 40% saying such research is an important but lower priority.

Some 41% say developing technologies that could be adapted for uses other than space exploration should be a top priority, and 44% characterize it as an important but lower priority for NASA. And 38% believe NASA should make it a top priority to conduct scientific research on how space travel affects human health, while 41% see it as an important but lower priority.

Indoor weather impacts the Stanley Cup

As a lifelong hockey player and professional meteorologist I can relate to this story. Soft ice changes the game.

  • Philip A. Rutter

    I am a little baffled to see no mention in the press release on carbon dioxide measurements at Mauna Loa of the current volcanic eruption, so near by. Volcanic gases emitted during eruptions are primarily water, first; then carbon dioxide; then sulfur dioxide. Usually. Lots of news on the thousands of tons of sulfur dioxide currently coming out of Kilauea, but zip on the CO2.

    I’m not concerned that the eruption has totally goofed up the measurements at the observatory- they have dealt with “cleaning the data” of blips from Kilauea before, and are on their guard. I’m worried however about the anti-warming forces, who will surely jump on this as reason to know at the data is corrupt. Unless they are headed off.

    One additional sentence would do: “Yes, the nearby eruption of Kilauea has added significant CO2 to local air; however years of experience with exactly this kind of volcanic gas has led to multiple ways for the observatory crew to keep that CO2 out of their data.”