Carbon Dioxide

LATEST MEASUREMENT:
LATEST ANNUAL AVERAGE ANOMALY:
May 2022
418 ppm

In Brief:

Human activities have profoundly increased carbon dioxide (a heat-trapping gas) levels in Earth’s atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an important heat-trapping (greenhouse) gas, which is released through human activities such as deforestation and burning fossil fuels, as well as natural processes such as respiration and volcanic eruptions. The first graph shows atmospheric CO2 levels measured at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii, in recent years, with the average seasonal cycle removed. The second graph shows CO2 levels during the last three glacial cycles, as reconstructed from ice cores.

Since the beginning of the industrial era (1750), human activities have raised atmospheric concentrations of CO2 by about 50%. This is more than what had happened naturally over a 20,000 year period (from the Last Glacial Maximum to 1750, from 185 ppm to 278 ppm).

The time series below shows global distribution and variation of the concentration of mid-tropospheric carbon dioxide in parts per million (ppm). The overall color of the map shifts toward the red with advancing time due to the annual increase of CO2.

Missions That Observe CO2

Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS)

Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2)

Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-3)

DIRECT MEASUREMENTS: 2005-PRESENT

Data source: Monthly measurements (average seasonal cycle removed). Credit: NOAA
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PROXY (INDIRECT) MEASUREMENTS

Data source: Reconstruction from ice cores.
Credit: NOAA
data graph

Time Series: 2002-2022

Data source: Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS).
Credit: NASA
September
2002
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Time Series: 2002-2022 key
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2002
2022
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374 ppm