Monday, May 4, 2020

Very High Greenhouse Gas Levels

Carbon Dioxide

On May 3, 2020, NOAA recorded a daily average carbon dioxide (CO₂) level of 418.12 ppm at Mauna Loa, Hawaii.

The image below shows hourly average CO₂ levels approaching 419 ppm at Mauna Loa in May 2020.
The image below shows hourly (red circles) and daily (yellow circles) averaged CO₂ values from Mauna Loa, Hawaii for the last 31 days, with some recent hourly averages showing up with values above 419 ppm.

By comparison, the highest daily average CO₂ level recorded by NOAA in 2019 at Mauna Loa was 415.64 ppm, as discussed in an earlier post. The image below shows how CO₂ growth has increased over the decades.
The daily average CO₂ level recorded by at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, was 418.04 ppm on May 25, 2020. One hourly average the day before exceeded 420 ppm, at which time emissions by people had raised CO₂ levels by some 160 ppm compared to the situation thousands of years ago, and by even more if levels had continued to follow a natural trend, as illustrated by the image and inset below.

A rise of 100 ppm CO₂ has historically corresponded with a global temperature rise of more than 10°C or 18°F, when looking at CO₂ levels and temperatures over the past 420,000 years, as illustrated by the image below.

Concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane (CH₄) and nitrous oxide (N₂O) in 2018 surged by higher amounts than during the past decade, according to a 2019 WMO news release and as illustrated by the image on the right, from an earlier post, which shows that CH₄, CO₂ and N₂O levels in the atmosphere in 2018 were, respectively, 259%, 147% and 123% of their pre-industrial (before 1750) levels.

So, methane levels have been rising much faster than CO₂ since 1750 and there is much potential for an even faster rise in methane levels due to seafloor hydrate releases.

Furthermore, as industrial activity declines in the wake of COVID-19, loss of aerosol masking alone could trigger a rapid rise, as discussed by Guy McPherson in recent papers here and here.

Given this, the 160 ppm rise in CO₂ could lead to a global temperature rise of 18°C or 32.4°F from 1750, and such a rise could unfold soon, as oceans and ice take up ever less heat and further feedbacks kick in, as also discussed in earlier post such as this one and this one.

The rise in levels of nitrous oxide is also worrying. Levels for methane and nitrous oxide were very high in May 2020, as further discussed below.


MetOp-1 recorded peak methane levels of 2917 ppb at 469 mb on the afternoon of May 22, 2020.

MetOp-1 recorded mean methane levels of 1896 ppb at 336 mb on the morning of May 22, 2020.

MetOp-2 recorded peak methane levels of 1918 ppb at 586 mb on the afternoon of May 24, 2020.

Siberian Heatwave

A heatwave hit Siberia in May 2020.

Above image shows that temperature anomalies were forecast to be at the high end of the scale over Siberia on May 22, 2020, 06:00 UTC, i.e. 30°C or 54°F higher than 1979-2000. At the same time, cold temperatures are forecast for much of eastern Europe.

What enables such a strong heatwave to develop is that the Jet Stream is getting more wavy as the temperature difference between the North Pole and the Equator is narrowing, causing both hot air to move up into the Arctic (red arrow) and cold air to descend out of the Arctic (blue arrow).

The Siberian heatwave threatens to trigger forest fires that can cause large amounts of black carbon to settle on the snow and ice cover, speeding up its demise. Furthermore, the heatwave threatens rivers to heat up that carry large amounts of water into the Arctic Ocean.

Nitrous Oxide

N20 recorded peak nitrous oxide levels of 366 ppb at 840 mb on the morning of May 21, 2020.

N20 recorded somewhat lower peak nitrous oxide levels of 346.9 ppb at 487.2 mb on the afternoon of May 23, 2020, but look at how much of Antarctica is covered by the magenta color, reflecting levels at the top end of the scale.

In addition to being a potent greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide is also an ozone depleting substance that affects the ozone layer. A recent study found that the Devionian mass extinction event 360 million years ago, that killed much of the Earth's plant and freshwater aquatic life, was caused by a brief breakdown of the ozone layer. Lead researcher Professor Marshall says: "Current estimates suggest we will reach similar global temperatures to those of 360 million years ago, with the possibility that a similar collapse of the ozone layer could occur again, exposing surface and shallow sea life to deadly radiation. This would move us from the current state of climate change, to a climate emergency."

Super Typhoon Amphan hits India and Bangladesh

Also in May 2020, super typhoon Amphan hit India and Bangladesh, with high waves and heavy rainfall. Waves as high as 14.2 m or 46.6 ft were forecast (at the green circle) for May 20, 2020, 06:00 UTC as Amphan approached Bangladesh.

"Once once-in-a-century, now once-in-a-decade", comments Sam Carana on this and other events.

The sea surface temperature image below shows that, on May 17, 2020, ocean temperatures were as high as 32.9°C or 91.1°F.

The combination image below shows high sea surface temperatures on May 15, 2020, 12:00 UTC, in the left panel.

Anomalies in the Indian Ocean were as high as 3.4°C or 6.0°F, in the Arctic Ocean as high as 1°C or 1.8°F and in the Pacific Ocean as high as 5.1°C or 9.1°F. Anomalies are from daily average during years 1981-2011.

The right panel of the combination image shows how these high ocean temperatures cause circular wind patterns. Wind speed was as high as 255 km/h or 159 mph in the Indian Ocean, at the location of super typhoon Amphan, on May 18, 2020, 06:00 UTC, while instantaneous wind power density was as high as 177.2 kW/m².

The combination image below shows the temporary cooling impact of Amphan.

The bottom panel shows that on May 18, 2020 09:00 UTC, the temperature at a location in India was 42.6°C or 108.6°F, as Amphan was approaching from the South.

The middle panel shows that, two days later, at the same location and at same time of day, the temperature had fallen to 23.4°C or 74°F as Amphan hit the area.

The cooling is only temporary. The top panel shows that a temperature of 47.9°C or 118.1°F is forecast for that location, same time of day, for May 26, 2020.

Arctic sea ice volume

Arctic sea ice volume has been at record low since the start of 2020, while 2019 volume was at a record low from October, making that volume has now been at record low for almost 8 months straight.

The situation is dire and calls for immediate, comprehensive and effective action as described in the Climate Plan.


• Climate Plan

• Climate Plan (June 1, 2019 version)

• The Keeling Curve - Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego

• 417.93 parts per million (ppm) CO2 in air 24-May-2020

• Greenhouse Gas Levels Keep Accelerating

• Will COVID-19 Trigger Extinction of All Life on Earth? - by Guy McPherson

• Earth is in the Midst of Abrupt, Irreversible Climate Change - by Guy McPherson

• Extinction

• Most Important Message Ever

• Methane

• Study shows erosion of ozone layer responsible for mass extinction event

• UV-B radiation was the Devonian-Carboniferous boundary terrestrial extinction kill mechanism - by John Marshall et al.

• Care for the Ozone Layer

• Arctic Ocean November 2019

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