Climate: record concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in 2021

Climate: record concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in 2021

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Atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming hit record highs in 2021, as have ocean levels, the US Observation Agency said on Wednesday (NOAA). 

While greenhouse gas emissions have started to rise again after the Covid-19 crisis, the concentration of CO2 in the he atmosphere averaged 414.7 parts per million (ppm), according to the annual US climate report led by NOAA scientists. That is 2.3 ppm more than in 2020 and a record since the start of measurements and for at least a million years.

Levels of methane, a gas that lasts only a decade but has a warming power 80 times greater than CO2 over a 20-year period, also hit a record high, according to the agency's statement, which notes a “significant” acceleration in the annual increase in methane levels in recent years.

In terms of the consequences of global warming, for the tenth consecutive year, the average level of oceans are also at an all-time high, 0.97cm above the level in 1993, when satellite measurements began.

The planet has gained an average of nearly 1.2°C since the pre-industrial era, already causing an increase in extreme weather events, from heat waves to storms, including droughts and floods.

And that's just the beginning. While every tenth of a degree counts, the world is indeed heading towards a warming of +2.8°C by 2100 even if the commitments made by States under the Paris agreement are respected, according to the UN climate experts (IPCC).

“The data presented in this report is clear: we continue to see growing scientific evidence of the global impacts of warming that shows no signs of abating commented NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad.

“With many communities hit by millennial floods, exceptional droughts and historic heat this year, it shows that the climate crisis is not a threat to come but something we have to deal with today,” he added.