Largest ever spike in CO2 emissions

Photo: Atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii. SourceNOAA

Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations grew at their fastest level in 2015, increasing by 3.05 parts per million (ppm) compared with the previous year. 

The measurements were taken from NOAA’s Mauna Loa observatory, based in Hawaii, with detailed records for the last 56 years. 2015 is now the fourth consecutive year where carbon dioxide concentration has exceed 2ppm. 

Prior to 1800’s, atmospheric CO2 averaged close to 280ppm. As of February 2016, average global atmospheric CO2 was at 402.59ppm. The main driver of increased CO2 emissions over the last century is due to fossil fuel consumption, however El Niño is partly accountable for the spike in emissions in 2015. Changing weather patterns caused by El Niño have affected forests, plants and other terrestrial systems as they respond to changes in temperature and precipitation.