Record high carbon dioxide
The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO₂) in the atmosphere just broke two records. CO₂ was 421.46 in the week starting May 22, 2022, at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, while CO₂ was 420.99 ppm in May 2022.
Earlier, very high daily and hourly measurements were recorded at Mauna Loa, as illustrated by the image below, showing one hourly measurement of 424 ppm (on May 28, 2022), as well as sequences of daily measurements in the green insets.
The image below shows carbon dioxide concentration rising over the past few years, with surface flask measurements well above 422 ppm at Mauna Loa recently.
Carbon dioxide concentration is even higher over the Arctic. The image below shows carbon dioxide approaching 430 ppm at Barrow, Alaska.
To get an idea how much greenhouse gases have risen, a 2021 study points at concentrations of 190 ppm for CO₂, 370-375 ppb for CH₄ and 200-245 ppb for N₂O some 18 ka to 21 ka. By comparison, the MetOp image below shows a global mean methane level that is more than five times as high, i.e. 1945 ppb at 293 mb on May 25, 2022 am.
The MetOp image below shows methane on May 30, 2022 pm, at 742 mb, which is much closer to sea level.
The NOAA 20 image below shows high nitrous oxide levels over the Arctic on June 3, 2022 pm at 1000 mb.
The trigger for such a huge rise could be a cataclysmic alignment of the upcoming El Niño with a high number of sunspots, which look set to reach maximum impact around July 2025.
We are currently in the depths of a persistent La Niña, as illustrated by the image on the right, adapted from NOAA. This suppresses the temperature rise.
The above NOAA image shows that the difference in temperature between the bottom of a La Niña and the peak of an El Niño can be more than half a degree Celsius (0.5°C or 0.9°F).
A huge temperature rise looks set to unfold soon, first of all in the Arctic, triggered by the combined impact of an upcoming El Niño and a peak in sunspots.
Sunspots are currently well above what NOAA predicted, as illustrated by the image on the right, adapted from NOAA.
The next El Niño looks set to line up with a high peak in sunspots, in a cataclysmic alignment that could push up the temperature enough to cause dramatic sea ice loss in the Arctic, resulting in runaway temperature rise by 2026.
A huge temperature rise in the Arctic
There are many further indications that we’re on the brink of a huge temperature rise in the Arctic.
As a result, several tipping points threaten to be crossed in the Arctic soon, as described in an earlier post, including the latent heat tipping point and a Blue Ocean Event, starting when Arctic sea ice extent will fall below 1 million km².
As temperatures keep rising in the Arctic, changes to the Jet Stream look set to intensify, resulting in loss of terrestrial albedo in the Arctic that could equal the albedo loss resulting from sea ice decline.
This would in turn also cause more water vapor to enter the atmosphere, further speeding up the temperature rise, especially in the Arctic, where vast amounts of methane are contained in sediments at the seafloor and where there is very little hydroxyl in the air to break down the methane.
Temperatures looks set to rise further, due to falling away of sulfate aerosols, while there could be a further temperature rise due to releases of other aerosols that have a net warming impact, such as black and brown carbon, which can increase dramatically as more wood burning and forest fires take place.
As the temperature keeps rising, further self-reinforcing feedbacks will kick in with more ferocity such as an increase in water vapor globally combined with a decrease in lower clouds decks, further increasing the temperature, as described at the clouds feedback page.
Altogether, the global temperature could rise by more than 18°C above pre-industrial, as illustrated by the image on the right from the Extinction page.
In conclusion, temperatures could rise strongly soon, driving humans extinct by 2026, making it in many respects rather futile to speculate about what will happen beyond 2026. At the same time, the right thing to do is to help avoid the worst things from happening, through comprehensive and effective action as described in the Climate Plan.
• NOAA – Global Monitoring Laboratory, Recent Daily Average CO₂ at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, U.S.
• NOAA – Global Monitoring Laboratory, at Barrow, Alaska, U.S.
• Globally resolved surface temperatures since the Last Glacial Maximum – by Matthew Osman et al. (2021)
• Arctic Hit By Ten Tipping Points
• NOAA – ENSO: Recent Evolution, Current Status and Predictions
• NOAA – Monthly Temperature Anomalies Versus El Niño
• MetOp satellite
• NOAA – sunspots
• Latent heat
• Blue Ocean Event
• Clouds feedback and tipping point
• Jet Stream
• The Importance of Methane
• When Will We Die?
• Climate Plan