Tag Archives: NOAA

Chart of the Day, 10 March 2015: The Stability of Carbon Sinks and Sources

About time we revisited the Big Number which sits on the right side of my blog: the atmospheric concentration of CO2. I dub this “the most important risk indicator in the world” since it will have a greater impact on humanity than anything else I can think of (barring the earth getting hit by a stray astroid or such).

The monthly average is back over 400 parts per million (ppm) as of February. As a reminder, the cyclicality is a result of the northern hemisphere (which accounts for 65% of global land mass) plant growth and decay cycle. Source for the two charts below: NOAA (click for larger images).

Recently Monthly Mean CO2 jpeg

The annual average year-on-year continues to grind up despite the fact that the first United Nations Climate Conference of Parties (COP) took place back in 1995.

Annual Mean Growth Rate of CO2 jpeg

COP 21 will take place in Paris this December, yet the above chart demonstrates that little progress has been made in mitigating carbon emissions.

In a blog post I wrote three years ago called “A Fraction for Your Thoughts” I highlighted a hidden risk contained in the above chart: the stability of the carbon sink and source relationship. As you can see from the chart below taken from the Global Carbon Budget 2014 (click for larger image), only a portion of emissions remain in the atmosphere. Continue reading

World on Brink of New Temperature Record (Despite a Coy El Niño)

Usually, a big, fat El Niño sets the world up for a new temperature record; see the correlation in the chart below. (For a good explanation of why, read this post by Bill Chameides of Duke University.)

TempAnomElNino jpeg

And for most of 2014, forecasters have been debating whether a big one would or wouldn’t show sometime soon. However, in its latest ENSO forecast, out 6th November, the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has grown far more “iffy”:

The CPC/IRI ENSO forecast has dropped the likelihood of El Niño again, to 58%, despite the presence of “borderline” El Niño conditions (i.e. warmer equatorial Pacific sea surface temperature, and some reduction in rain over Indonesia). El Niño is still expected, but with less confidence.

But the Australians, in an even more recent update (18th November), think we may see a last minute appearance for this year’s elusive El Niño:

The Pacific Ocean has shown some renewed signs of El Niño development in recent weeks. Above-average temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean have warmed further in the past fortnight, while the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has generally been in excess of El Niño thresholds for the past three months. Climate models suggest current conditions will either persist or strengthen. These factors mean the Bureau’s ENSO Tracker Status has been upgraded from WATCH to ALERT level, indicating at least a 70% chance of El Niño occurring.

Regardless of whether El Niño shows, it is too late in the year for it to significantly pump up global temperature anomalies. So it should be tough for 2014 to take the number one spot. Or will it?

From Columbia University’s Earth Institute, we can see where the records stand:

Top 10 Warm Years jpeg

Note: the slight differences between the anomalies recorded by the two US government agencies, NOAA and NASA, are due to different measurement procedures. Nonetheless, for both time series, the years from the last decade dominate the table and broadly align. And for 2014?

The NASA data (here) have been published out to October and show an average temperature anomaly for the first 10 months of the year of 0.66 ⁰C. The nine months of data put out so far by NOAA (here) average 0.67 ⁰C. While the Pacific Ocean may not be characterised as exhibiting a full-blown El Niño, it certainly is on the warm side, with the result that the final months of the year are likely to come in well above average, temperature-wise.

So the annual global mean temperature record looks almost in the bag for 2014. Whether this record will be enough to put paid to the climate skeptic meme that global warming stopped in 1998 is doubtful (the old records will likely be beaten but not smashed). But the evolving data do show that when the next El Niño arrives, it will build on an ever hotter base.

Thus mankind presses ever further into unchartered temperature territory. The foolhardiness of this risk-taking amazes me.

Data Watch: Atmospheric CO2 October 2013

With the northern hemisphere having moved into fall, the annual cyclical upswing in atmospheric CO2 has begun. Key numbers relating to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s release of the October 2013 mean monthly CO2 concentration are as follows:

  • October 2013 = 396.66 ppm, +2.55 ppm year-on-year
  • Twelve Month Average = 396.1 ppm, +2.69 ppm year-on-year
  • Twelve month average over pre–industrial level = +41.5%

Atmospheric CO2 concentration is the world’s leading risk indicator. Every month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a U.S. government federal agency, releases data on the concentration of atmospheric CO2 as measured by the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. The official NOAA CO2 data source can be found here.

This is the longest continuous monthly measurement of CO2 and dates back to March 1958, when 315.71 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 was recorded. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) uses the year 1750 as the pre-industrialisation reference point, at which date the atmospheric concentration of CO2 was approximately 280 ppm according to ice core measurements.

Atmospheric CO2 displays annual seasonality: concentrations decline from the spring during the growing phase of terrestrial vegetation and rise in the autumn as vegetation dies and decomposes. The cycle is dominated by the northern hemisphere growing season since the northern hemisphere contains over 65% of the globe’s land mass. The cyclical pattern can be seen in the following chart (red line). The black line is the adjustment for seasonality.

Monthly CO2 Mean jpeg

Continue reading

Data Watch: Atmospheric CO2 March 2013

Around 10 days later than usual, the March CO2 numbers are now out! Key numbers relating to NOAA’s April 17th release of March 2013 mean monthly CO2 concentration are as follows:

  • March 2013 = 397.34 ppm, +2.90 ppm year-on-year
  • Twelve Month Average = 394.53 ppm, +2.44 ppm year-on-year
  • Twelve month average over pre–industrial level = +40.9%

Atmospheric CO2 concentration is the world’s leading risk indicator. Every month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a U.S. government federal agency, releases data on the concentration of atmospheric CO2 as measured by the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. The official NOAA CO2 data source can be found here.

This is the longest continuous monthly measurement of CO2 and dates back to March 1958, when 315.71 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 was recorded. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) uses the year 1750 as the pre-industrialisation reference point, at which date the atmospheric concentration of CO2 was approximately 280 ppm according to ice core measurements.

Decadal CO2 Change jpg

Atmospheric CO2 displays annual seasonality: concentrations decline from the spring during the growing phase of terrestrial vegetation and rise in the autumn as vegetation dies and decomposes. The cycle is dominated by the northern hemisphere growing season since the northern hemisphere contains over 65% of the globe’s land mass. The cyclical pattern can be seen in the following chart (red line). The black line is the adjustment for seasonality.

Recent Monthly Mean CO2 jpeg

The peak for atmospheric CO2 concentration is generally in the month of May. Based on past season cycles, we will likely reach 399 ppm in May 2013 and cross the 400 ppm mark in 2014. The rise in annual CO2 is due to fossil-fuel emissions and land-use change. However, there also exists some minor non-seasonal year-to-year variation related to weather, drought, fire, ocean current changes and volcanic eruptions.

The Copenhagen Accord of December 2009 reached the following agreement with respect to atmospheric CO2 concentrations:

To achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention to stabilize greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, we shall, recognizing the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius, on the basis of equity and in the context of sustainable development, enhance our long-term cooperative action to combat climate change.

The consensus best estimate is that a CO2 concentration of 450 ppm should not be surpassed in order to have a chance of keeping the increase in global mean temperature below 2 degrees Celsius. The current atmospheric CO2 trend suggests that the 450 ppm concentration and,  subsequently, 2 degree Celsius threshold will be substantially exceeded.

Data Watch: Atmospheric CO2 February 2013

Atmospheric CO2 concentration is the world’s leading risk indicator. Every month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a U.S. government federal agency, releases data on the concentration of atmospheric CO2 as measured by the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. The official NOAA CO2 data source can be found here.

This is the longest continuous monthly measurement of CO2 and dates back to March 1958, when 315.71 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 was recorded.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) uses the year 1750 as the pre-industrialisation reference point, at which date the atmospheric concentration of CO2 was approximately 280 ppm according to ice core measurements.

Key numbers relating to NOAA’s March 5th release of February 2013 mean monthly CO2 concentration are as follows:

  • February 2013 = 396.80 ppm, +3.26 ppm year-on-year
  • Twelve Month Average = 394.2 ppm, +2.36 ppm year-on-year
  • Twelve month average over pre–industrial level = +40.8%

Decadal CO2 Change jpg

Continue reading

Data Watch: Sea Level Rise

Who would have thought that sea level would exhibit volatility? Latest data from the U.S. government agency the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to mid-January shows sea level rise pushing to the top of its twenty-year trend line. But only a little more than a year ago sea level exhibited a significant drop of 5 mm (and the “climate skeptic” blogosphere was alight with the claim that sea level rise had stopped). The drop was related to a sudden transition from El Nino to La Nina conditions which dumped an unprecedented amount of water on land. An explanation by NASA of this phenomenon is here.

A good backgrounder on sea level rise can be found at Real Climate (here and here) by Stefan Rahmstorf, one of the world’s foremost experts on sea level.

The major sea level time series all show sea level rising at roughly 3 mm per annum linear rate over the past two decades.

NOAA Sea Level  jpg

In order for us to experience the more pessimistic sea level rise outcomes of 1 to 2 metres by end of century (see for example here), the rate of rise will need to break out of its linear 3 mm per annum trend in the not too distant future. High rates of sea level rise have the potential to cause massive economic disruption, so a careful tracking of any change in trend is a critical component in gauging climate risk. Continue reading

Data Watch: Atmospheric CO2 January 2013

Atmospheric CO2 concentration is the world’s leading risk indicator. Every month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a U.S. government federal agency, releases data on the concentration of atmospheric CO2 as measured by the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. The official NOAA CO2 data source can be found here.

This is the longest continuous monthly measurement of CO2 and dates back to March 1958, when 315.70 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 was recorded.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) uses the year 1750 as the pre-industrialisation reference point, at which date the atmospheric concentration of CO2 was approximately 280 ppm according to ice core measurements.

Key numbers relating to NOAA’s February 5th release of January 2013 mean CO2 concentration are as follows:

  • January 2013 = 395.65 ppm, +2.41 ppm year-on-year
  • Twelve Month Average = 394.01 ppm, +2.24 ppm year-on-year
  • Twelve month average over pre–industrial level = +40.7%

Decadal CO2 Change jpg

Continue reading