2014-09-09. CO2 levels in atmosphere rising at dramatically faster rate, U.N. report warns.

posted Sep 9, 2014, 10:36 AM by Alan Gould
For GSS Climate Change chapter 6. Excerpt: ...Concentrations of nearly all the major greenhouse gases reached historic highs in 2013, reflecting ...a diminishing ability of the world’s oceans and plant life to soak up the excess carbon put into the atmosphere by humans, according to data released early Tuesday by the United Nations’ meteorological advisory body. The latest figures from the World Meteorological Organization’s monitoring network are considered particularly significant because they reflect not only the amount of carbon pumped into the air by humans, but also the complex interaction between man-made gases and the natural world. Historically, about half of the pollution from human sources has been absorbed by the oceans and by terrestrial plants, preventing temperatures from rising as quickly as they otherwise would, scientists say. “If the oceans and the biosphere cannot absorb as much carbon, the effect on the atmosphere could be much worse,” said Oksana Tarasova, a scientist and chief of the WMO’s Global Atmospheric Watch program, which collects data from 125 monitoring stations worldwide.  ...Global concentrations of methane — a byproduct of farming and fossil-fuel extraction, as well as numerous natural processes — are now 2.5 times as high as they were at the start of the industrial age, in the mid-18th century, the report said. The organization’s annual report included, for the first time, figures on the increasing acidification of the oceans stemming from higher levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. ...the rate of acidification is now “unprecedented, at least over the past 300,000 years,” the WMO said. ...In an indirect way, the acidification of seawater also exacerbates climate change: The oceans over time become less capable of absorbing carbon from the air, allowing more of the greenhouse gas to accumulate in the atmosphere, the report said.... http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/co2-levels-in-atmosphere-rising-at-dramatically-faster-rate-un-report-warns/2014/09/08/3e2277d2-378d-11e4-bdfb-de4104544a37_story.html. By Joby Warrick, Washington Post.