Science

Record rise in Carbon dioxide level caused by 2015-16 El Nino

Now, the scientists at NASA have found out that this phenomenon was also responsible for the largest annual increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in, at least, the last 2,000 years.

One of the crowning achievements of modern environmental science is the Keeling curve, the detailed time series of the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) begun in 1958 that has enabled deep insights into the mechanisms of global climate change.

This cycle, coupled with the continual emissions from fossil fuel burning over China, Europe and the southeast United States, means carbon levels reach a seasonal high in April in the northern hemisphere, it said.

The findings reflect 28 months of data from NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2. The important thing is that the carbon emissions occurring due to human activities during 2105-16 nearly remained same as previous year, but still carbon dioxide concentration increased during those years.

In South America, drought stressed out vegetation so much that less carbon dioxide was converted through photosynthesis into oxygen, researchers reported today in the journal Science.

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The El Nino in 2015-16 impacted the amount of carbon dioxide that Earth's tropical regions released into the atmosphere, leading to a recent record spike in atmospheric CO2.

A team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) led by Junjie Liu compared the 2015 data to readings taken in 2011 - a year with a "normal" increase - by the Japanese Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite to figure it out. Eighty percent of the spike, or the equivalent of 2.5 gigatons of carbon, occurred because of natural processes due to drought and high temperatures in South America, Africa and Indonesia.

Two thousand fifteen and 2016 saw record levels of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, even though human carbon emissions have stabilized in recent years.

As the world warms, the tropics could add to carbon to the atmosphere in the future instead of taking it out of the air and wildfire emissions are likely to get more severe, Overpeck said. "In this sense, the 2015-16 El Nino is a glimpse of what is to come", Overpeck said in an email.



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