Press release archive: 2010

WMO: Record-high greenhouse gas concentrations

1.12.2010 9:17

Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere were again greater than ever before during the history of humankind.

Photo: Kirsti Kotro

Photo: Kirsti Kotro

Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere were again greater than ever before during the history of humankind. The GAW network of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) follows atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations in various parts of the world.

Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW), established by the World Meteorological Organization, is a global programme for monitoring the atmosphere. The programme plays a central role in monitoring greenhouse gases that affect climate change. The latest observations from GAW stations indicate that the concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases have reached new records despite the economic slowdown and the international action taken to reduce them.

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, for instance, has risen by about 40 % since pre-industrial times. Within the last few years, the average annual increase has been 0.5 %.

The amount of methane has also been rising again since 2007. The increase stems from tropical and Arctic regions where temperatures have been warmer than normally. In fact, the increasing methane emissions from Arctic regions have been listed as a major concern because the melting of northern permafrost areas may release great volumes of methane into the atmosphere.

Higher concentrations also measured in Finland
The increase in carbon dioxide concentrations is also seen in the measurements made by the Finnish Meteorological Institute at the Pallas station, where the annual increase has been 2.0 ppm. The increase continued last year, too. These measurements also reflect the impact of seasonal variation: forests act as effective carbon sinks during the growing season, whereas in the autumn and winter the soil is a source of carbon.

The Finnish Meteorological Institute has participated in the GAW programme since 1994. The GAW measurement station maintained by the Institute is located on the peak of Sammaltunturi mountain in the Ylläs-Pallastunturi National Park. At present, corresponding measurements are also made at a station set up in Tiksi, in Siberia.

The GAW programme of the WMO has measurement stations in about 50 countries all over the world. These stations monitor long-term changes that take place in the chemical and physical properties of the atmosphere.

Additional information:
Tuomas Laurila, Head of Group, tel. +358 50 367 1305, tuomas.laurila@fmi.fi

WMO press release: http://www.wmo.int/pages/mediacentre/press_releases/pr_903_en.html