NOAA greenhouse gas index continues to climb

Nov 09, 2011

NOAA's updated Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI), which measures the direct climate influence of many greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, shows a continued steady upward trend that began with the Industrial Revolution of the 1880s.

Started in 2004, the AGGI reached 1.29 in 2010. That means the combined heating effect of long-lived greenhouse gases added to the by human activities has increased by 29 percent since 1990, the "index" year used as a baseline for comparison. This is slightly higher than the 2009 AGGI, which was 1.27, when the combined heating effect of those additional greenhouse gases was 27 percent higher than in 1990.

"The increasing amounts of long-lived greenhouse gases in our atmosphere indicate that is an issue society will be dealing with for a long time," said Jim Butler, director of the Global Monitoring Division of NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo. " has the potential to affect most aspects of society, including , agriculture, and economies. will continue to monitor these gases into the future to further understand the impacts on our planet."

The AGGI is analogous to the dial on an electric blanket – that dial does not tell you exactly how hot you will get, nor does the AGGI predict a specific temperature. Yet just as turning the dial up increases the heat of an electric blanket, a rise in the AGGI means greater greenhouse warming.

NOAA scientists created the AGGI recognizing that is not the only affecting the balance of heat in the atmosphere. Many other long-lived gases also contribute to warming, although not currently as much as carbon dioxide.

The AGGI includes methane and nitrous oxide, for example, greenhouse gases that are emitted by human activities and also have natural sources and sinks. It also includes several chemicals known to deplete Earth's protective ozone layer, which are also active as greenhouse gases. The 2010 AGGI reflects several changes in the concentration of these gases, including:

  • A continued steady increase in carbon dioxide: Global carbon dioxide levels rose to an average of 389 parts per million in 2010, compared with 386 ppm in 2009, and 354 in the index or comparison year of 1990. Before the of the 1880s, carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere was about 280 ppm. Carbon dioxide levels swing up and down in natural seasonal cycles, but human activities – primarily the burning of coal, oil, and gas for transportation and power – have driven a consistent upward trend in concentration.
  • A continued recent increase in methane: Methane levels rose in 2010 for the fourth consecutive year after remaining nearly constant for the preceding 10 years, up to 1799 parts per billion. Methane measured 1794 ppb in 2009, and 1714 ppb in 1990. Pound for pound, methane is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, but there's less of it in the atmosphere.
  • A continued steady increase in nitrous oxide: Best known as laughing gas in dentistry, nitrous oxide is also a greenhouse gas emitted from natural sources and as a byproduct of agricultural fertilization, livestock manure, sewage treatment and some industrial processes.
  • · A continued recent drop in two chlorofluorocarbons, CFC11 and CFC12: Levels of these two compounds – which are ozone-depleting chemicals in addition to – have been dropping at about one percent per year since the late 1990s, because of an international agreement, the Montreal Protocol, to protect the ozone layer.
Scientists at NOAA's Research Laboratory prepare the AGGI each year from atmospheric data collected through an international cooperative air sampling network of more than 100 sites around the world.

NOAA researchers developed the AGGI in 2004 and have so far back calculated it to 1978. Atmospheric composition data from ice core and other records could allow the record to be extended back centuries.

Explore further: Indians rally against climate change ahead of UN talks

More information: NOAA's Annual Greenhouse Gas Index:
www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/aggi/

Trends in carbon dioxide:
www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/

Frequently asked questions:
www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/gases.html

Carbon factsheet:
www.climate.gov/#understandingClimate/factSheets

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New website to monitor greenhouse gases

Jun 20, 2011

An Australian research institute on Monday launched a website that allows the public to monitor greenhouse gas emissions in the southern hemisphere.

All Earth wants for Christmas? A sock for its coal

Dec 04, 2004

Concerns about greenhouse gases and global warming are getting scientists to think in unconventional ways about how to stem the carbon dioxide tide. Indiana University Bloomington geologist Chen Zhu is trying to determine ...

Carbon dioxide controls Earth's temperature

Oct 14, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Water vapor and clouds are the major contributors to Earth's greenhouse effect, but a new atmosphere-ocean climate modeling study shows that the planet's temperature ultimately depends on ...

Two 'new' greenhouse gases growing

Mar 24, 2009

Two new greenhouse gases are accumulating in the atmosphere, according to an international research team led by scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the US and CSIRO scientist, Dr Paul Fraser, from the ...

Recommended for you

Green dream: Can UN summit revive climate issue?

10 hours ago

Five years ago, the environment movement was in its heyday as politicians, actors, rock stars and protestors demanded a looming UN summit brake the juggernaut of climate change.

Rio's Olympic golf course in legal bunker

Sep 18, 2014

The return of golf to the Olympics after what will be 112 years by the time Rio hosts South America's first Games in 2016 comes amid accusations environmental laws were got round to build the facility in ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (1) Nov 09, 2011
Yes, but isn't this all just facts, figures, and relevant data compiled by hundreds of skilled scientists?

I mean, should we trust it based on just that?
omatumr
1.6 / 5 (7) Nov 09, 2011
isn't this all just facts, figures, and relevant data compiled by hundreds of skilled scientists?


Many were Nobel Prize winners!

Al Gore, the UN's IPCC, and probably an entire army of scientists who received grant funds to generate information for the UN's IPCC Reports

www.ipcc.ch/publi...ts.shtml

Thirty (30) years of effort were devoted to this project:

http://joannenova...imeline/

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo

jsdarkdestruction
3 / 5 (2) Nov 10, 2011
Oliver Manuel's recent efforts to plaster Physorg.com and other public news sites with his theories and personal URLs are a bit puzzling, as scientists have a variety of publications available to communicate directly to each other in. My best guess is that he is desperately trying to prop up his legacy in light of his arrest in his university office on 7 charges of rape and sodomy based on allegations by 4 of his own children. The charges have been reduced to one count of felony attempted sodomy, not necessarily because of his innocence, but because of the statute of limitations. One can only guess how the recent charges and decades of family strife have affected his ability to reason rationally and to remain objective while defending his unpopular theories.

http://www.homefa...uel.html

http://mominer.ms...hildren/