Latest Keeling Curve is bad news on carbon emissions
More bad news on Monday for carbon emissions building up in the atmosphere. The Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii measures carbon dioxide molecules in dry air. The data collected are known as the Keeling Curve, and new data was released this week.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography reported a new record for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It was also the fourth-highest year-to-year increase in CO2 in the history of the Keeling Curve.
Carbon dioxide levels are now at 424 parts per million (PPM). That’s up three PPM from May of last year. Levels of carbon in the atmosphere, and the global warming that comes with it, continue to march upward.
“Every year we see carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere increase as a direct result of human activity,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad. “While we will have to adapt to the climate impacts we cannot avoid, we must expend every effort to slash carbon pollution and safeguard this planet and the life that calls it home.”
Scripps Oceanography has managed and monitored the Mauna Loa readings and charted the Keeling Curve since the late 1950s. Since 1974, NOAA also maintained records in cooperation with Scripps.
The four biggest increases in the Keeling Curve have all occurred in the past decade.
“This is the fourth highest after the years 2013, 2016 and 2019 in our records. So that acquires a substantial increase in the Mauna Loa record,” said Xin Lan, a research scientist with NOAA and the University of Colorado.
Lan and other researchers hope to someday see the effects of fewer carbon emissions.
“We certainly hope to see the flattening of the Keeling Curve,” she said. “But based on what we observe, this is not happening. And it’s ... often more than a 2 PPM annual increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. And that is very significant compared to our records in the 1960s and 1970s.”
Scripps Oceanography geoscientist Charles David Keeling initiated on-site measurements of CO2 at NOAA’s Mauna Loa weather station in 1958. Keeling is seen as the first to recognize the effects of CO2 levels in the Northern Hemisphere.