Arctic CO2 at “unprecedented level”

The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the earth’s atmosphere has reached a record high, according to the latest figures released by an internationally regarded measuring station in Arctic Norway, the Guardian reported. The measurements suggest that levels of CO2, the main greenhouse gas, are continuing to increase at an alarming rate.

Levels at the Zeppelin research station – in Norway’s northern Svalbard archipelago — peaked last week at over 397 parts per million (ppm), an increase of more than 2.5 ppm on 2008. They have since begun to reduce. Prior to the industrial revolution in Europe, CO2 levels were around 280 ppm.

While levels recorded in Svalbard tend to be higher than the global average, scientists said the measurement – collected by the government-funded Norwegian Polar Institute – still was unprecedented.

“These are the highest figures collected in 50 million years,” said Johan Strom, professor of atmospheric physics at the institute. “It is not the level of CO2 that is the problem, because the earth will adapt. What is very worrying is the speed of change. Levels [here] are now increasing two to three ppm a year. … Never before have C02 levels increased so fast.”

Carbon levels in the Arctic are higher than the global average because there is more landmass and human activity in the earth’s northern hemisphere. Atmospheric circulation brings air from Europe and North America into the region.

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