The World Meteorological Organization's Annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin raised serious concerns about a new high average global concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The new level reached the milestone of 400 parts per million in 2015, following the El Niño event.
The same level had been reached locally in some parts of the world, but never before had it increased to a global level throughout an entire year. The organization's concern also addresses the prognosis that this level will not lower under 400 ppm for many generations.
The growth in CO2 is associated with El Niño and started in 2015, heavily impacting the environmental situation of 2016, as well as that of the years to come. Droughts in tropical regions and the vegetation's inability to absorb the current CO2 levels represent a part of the organization's apprehension - according to the bulletin, no more than a half of the emissions can be absorbed, which results in the emissions remaining in the atmosphere for long periods of time.
The greenhouse gas bulletin also contextualizes the matter, stating that between the years 1990 and 2015 the increase in radiative forcing reached 37 percent because of the unprecedented levels of greenhouse gases caused by both industrial and agricultural or domestic activities.
El Niño events typically occur in association with abnormal weather patterns, among which strong storms in local areas and flooding in others are some of the most common.
"A typical El Niño event lasts nine months to two years. This phenomenon is witnessed roughly every two to seven years, although such a significant El Niño event had not occurred for the past 18 years," states the bulletin.
The agency calculated that the annual rise is 2.3 ppm, 80 percent of which CO2 seems to be responsible for. The variation of this data will most likely lower to natural fluxes, but recent research points out that, under the current warming conditions, our planet will not be as able to absorb the extra emissions caused by human activity.
Oceans are typically the ones to absorb approximately one-fourth of the CO2 emissions, and the land biosphere another fourth. However, predictions show that both of the two natural absorbents of greenhouse gas have failed to keep up with our pollution rates.
"According to the most recent data, increased growth rates have persisted far into 2016, consistent with the expected lag between CO2 growth and the El Niño/Southern Oscillation index. It is predicted that because of this, 2016 will be the first year in which CO2 at the Mauna Loa Observatory remains above 400 ppm all year, and hence for many generations," the WMO explained in the bulletin.