Antarctica’s Carbon Dioxide Levels Have Reached A Troubling New Record

They are now at 400ppm, for the first time in human history
Andreas Kambanis / Flickr

With the French government ratifying the Paris Agreement and Secretary of State John Kerry visiting the Scandinavian arctic to learn more on the effects of climate change, one can get lulled into a false sense of security that climate action is slowly but surely happening.

But a new announcement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released Wednesday reveals a new benchmark that should kick us in the seat of our pants.

The remaining atmospheric observatory, Antarctica’s South Pole Observatory, has detected atmospheric carbon dioxide at 400 parts per million. Scientists agree that this number is alarming, as the level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has remained between 280 to 300ppm until around the time of the Industrial Revolution, when an increase in industrialization and manufacturing pumped higher levels of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. These higher levels of greenhouse gases will bring about increasingly worse levels of destruction via climate change.

After the first observatory, the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, recorded 400 ppm three years ago, the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have flowed and cycled throughout the globe. From its original spewing out in the northern hemisphere, the greenhouse gas has made it to the southernmost continent.

The video below, from NASA, helps to explain carbon dioxide cycling in the atmosphere.

New studies are showing that 400 ppm may be the new normal for planet Earth, though the levels at observatories may dip and rise as the Earth’s atmosphere cycles.

The last time that the Earth’s atmosphere contained carbon dioxide at 400 ppm was about four million years ago, approximately 3,988,000 years before humans began to roam the Earth.

[Via Scientific American]