Monday, October 19, 2015

Seasonal Increases of CO2 Underway

The CO2 level in the atmosphere experiences seasonal increases and decreases over the year. As plant life becomes dormant in the fall, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere increases. This continues until the following spring when the amount of plant life activity is enough to start pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere faster than it goes in. Unfortunately, the amount being dumped in the atmosphere year-to-year is greater than the amount taken out by natural processes, so the level increases every year. This process produces a saw-tooth curve with an upward slope, known as the Keeling curve after Charles Keeling, the scientists who began high-precision atmospheric CO2 measurements on Mauna Loa, Hawaii in 1957. Here is the total curve since he began his measurements:

Source: SIO
Recently, the level hit the annual minimum and has begun increasing again. This year's minimum was about 1.5 ppm higher than last year's minimum. Here is the two-year plot:

Source: SIO

This year (2015) saw the monthly average level exceed the benchmark of 400 ppm from February through July. We will also see it exceeded in December. Only August through November will be below 400 ppm this year. My forecast is that September next year will be the last month we will ever see where the average is below 400 ppm. August, October, and November will be over 400 ppm next year and September will be only a little bit below.

But, I suppose ruining the planet is a small price to pay to protect the jobs of a few coal miners (who could get jobs doing something else a lot safer) and the profits of billionaires (who already have more money than they could ever spend).

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