The level of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere is one for the books as it reached a record level in 2015.
In a recent report by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), experts from the agency's Earth System Research Laboratory and Scripps Institution of Oceanography independently measured the amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The results set a new feat, raising concerns about the greenhouse gas and the impacts of global warming.
Lead investigator Pieter Tans from the agency's Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network says that the levels of carbon dioxide are rising more swiftly than it have in hundreds of thousands of years.
"It's explosive compared to natural processes," he says.
Feat Of Firsts
Data about the rate of carbon dioxide increase per year were collated at NOAA's Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. The numbers show that carbon dioxide increased by 3.05 parts per million in 2015. Such rate is said to be the biggest increase documented in the year to year recording in 56 years of research.
Tans also reveals that 2015 was the fourth successive year that carbon dioxide rose to more than two parts per million - another first.
Comparing Past And Present Rates
Before 1800, the rate of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere was 280 parts per million on the average. In February 2016, the said rate is 402.59 parts per million.
Between 17,000 to 11,000 years ago, the Earth was able to sustain such increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, when the greenhouse gas was exhibiting a rise of 80 parts per million. At present, Tans says the degree of rise is 200 times faster.
Causes Carbon Dioxide Increases
NOAA says one reason for the massive leap in carbon dioxide levels is the current El Niño, which drives wildlife, forests and nature to respond to changes in weather, drought and precipitation.
The biggest former rise of carbon dioxide levels was in 1998, which was also recognized as a solid El Niño year.
The said natural phenomenon impairs the function of trees and other systems to absorb carbon dioxide as it adjust to the haywire that is the weather pattern. The resulting effect is faster release of the greenhouse gas to the atmosphere.
Although the weather plays a significant role in carbon dioxide increases, the main causative factor remains to be the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal.
While the global emission of greenhouse gases were lower in 2015 than in previous years, this is not enough to compensate for the carbon dioxide numbers now. The way to totally improve the condition is to have so-called "negative emissions," wherein the level of carbon dioxide absorbed by the planet is lower than what humans emit.