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  Yahoo News 22 Oct 07
CO2 in air grows fast: study

Yahoo News 23 Oct 07
Carbon dioxide in atmosphere increasing
By Randolph E. Schmid, AP Science Writer

PlanetArk 23 Oct 07
Carbon Dioxide Levels Up Faster Than Thought - Study
Story by Michael Kahn

LONDON - Humans are pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at an increasingly quicker pace while natural reservoirs such as oceans and trees are soaking up less and less of the greenhouse gas, researchers said on Monday.

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have grown 35 percent faster than expected since 2000 due to increased greenhouse gas emissions in rapidly developing nations and less efficient natural sinks, or reservoirs, they said.

The findings suggest people are falling behind in efforts to limit global warming and its potential impacts, Corinne Le Quere, a physicist at Britain's University of East Anglia, who worked on the study, said in a telephone interview.

"It means that we are not on the track we thought we were in terms of controlling global warming," Le Quere said.

Researchers from the university, the Global Carbon Project and the British Antarctic Survey analysed atmospheric carbon dioxide observations and emissions data since 1959 and compared them with observed and projected trends.

They found that projections made at the end of the 1990s had underestimated the amount of fossil fuel emissions by 4 percent to 17 percent, mainly due to fast economic growth in the developing world.

"Richer countries are improving their energy efficiency when it comes to emissions but as developing countries grow they are using more energy from sources like coal, which pushes out more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than oil or other resources," Le Quere said.

While increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide were no surprise, the causes and pace of the increase were unexpected, the researchers said in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A big reason is that natural sinks such as oceans and forests -- which typically absorb about half of the emissions sent into the atmosphere each year -- are much less efficient due to warming temperatures and related consequences, Le Quere said.

Human emissions of gases such as methane and carbon dioxide that trap heat in the atmosphere are clearly contributing to rising global average temperatures, many experts agree.

Scientists say average global temperatures will rise by 2 to 6 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, which in turn will cause droughts, floods and violent storms.

Yahoo News 22 Oct 07
CO2 in air grows fast: study

Economic growth has made carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increase much faster than expected, as trees and oceans struggle to absorb the greenhouse gas, scientists said in a study published Monday.

"Atmospheric carbon dioxide growth has increased 35 percent faster than expected since 2000," said a statement from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), one of the bodies involved in the research.

Inefficient use of fuels increased CO2 by 17 percent, while the other 18 percent was due to a decline in the efficiency of natural "sinks," the forests and seas that soak up the gas from the atmosphere, it said.

"Fifty years ago, for every tonne of CO2 emitted, 600 kilograms (1,300 pounds) were removed by natural sinks. In 2006 only 550 kilograms were removed per tonne and that amount is falling," said the study's lead author, Pep Canadell of the Global Carbon Project, in a statement.

"The proportion of carbon dioxide remaining in the atmosphere after vegetation and the oceans absorb what they can has escalated over the past 50 years, showing a decrease in the planet's ability to absorb anthropogenic (human-made) emissions."

Almost 10 billion tons of carbon were emitted worldwide in 2006 -- 35 percent more than in 1990, the study found. The landmark Kyoto Protocol agreement committed countries to cut world greenhouse gas emissions five percent below the 1990 level by 2012.

"Improvements in the carbon intensity of the global economy have stalled since 2000 after improving for 30 years, leading to the unexpected growth of atmospheric CO2," the BAS said.

"The decline in global sink efficiency suggests that stabilization of atmospheric CO2 is even more difficult to achieve than previously thought," said one of the study's authors, Corinne Le Quere, in the BAS statement.

The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States.

Most of the authors are members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Nobel Prize-winning United Nations body which has made key reports on climate change for world leaders.

Yahoo News 23 Oct 07
Carbon dioxide in atmosphere increasing
By Randolph E. Schmid, AP Science Writer

Just days after the Nobel prize was awarded for global warming work, an alarming new study finds that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing faster than expected.

Carbon dioxide emissions were 35 percent higher in 2006 than in 1990, a much faster growth rate than anticipated, researchers led by Josep G. Canadell, of Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, report in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Increased industrial use of fossil fuels coupled with a decline in the gas absorbed by the oceans and land were listed as causes of the increase.

"In addition to the growth of global population and wealth, we now know that significant contributions to the growth of atmospheric CO2 arise from the slowdown" of nature's ability to take the chemical out of the air, said Canadell, director of the Global Carbon Project at the research organization.

The changes "characterize a carbon cycle that is generating stronger-than-expected and sooner-than-expected climate forcing," the researchers report.

Kevin Trenberth of the climate analysis section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. said the "paper raises some very important issues that the public should be aware of: Namely that concentrations of CO2 are increasing at much higher rates than previously expected and this is in spite of the Kyoto Protocol that is designed to hold them down in western countries,"

Alan Robock, associate director of the Center for Environmental Prediction at Rutgers University, added: "What is really shocking is the reduction of the oceanic CO2 sink," meaning the ability of the ocean to absorb carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere.

The researchers blamed that reduction on changes in wind circulation, but Robock said he also thinks rising ocean temperatures reduce the ability to take in the gas.

"Think that a warm Coke has less fizz than a cold Coke," he said.

Neither Robock nor Trenberth was part of Canadell's research team.

Carbon dioxide is the leading "greenhouse gas," so named because their accumulation in the atmosphere can help trap heat from the sun, causing potentially dangerous warming of the planet.

While most atmospheric scientists accept the idea, finding ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has been a political problem because of potential effects on the economy. Earlier this month, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and former Vice President Al Gore for their work in calling attention to global warming.

"It turns out that global warming critics were right when they said that global climate models did not do a good job at predicting climate change," Robock commented. "But what has been wrong recently is that the climate is changing even faster than the models said. In fact, Arctic sea ice is melting much faster than any models predicted, and sea level is rising much faster than IPCC previously predicted."

According to the new study, carbon released from burning fossil fuel and making cement rose from 7.0 billion metric tons per year in 2000 to 8.4 billion metric tons in 2006. A metric tons is 2,205 pounds.

The growth rate increased from 1.3 percent per year in 1990-1999 to 3.3 percent per year in 2000-2006, the researchers added.

Trenberth noted that carbon dioxide is not the whole story methane emissions have declined, so total greenhouse gases are not increasing as much as carbon dioxide alone. Also, he added, other pollution plays a role by cooling.

There are changes from year to year in the fraction of the atmosphere made up of carbon dioxide and the question is whether this increase is transient or will be sustained, he said.

"The theory suggests increases in (the atmospheric fraction), as is claimed here, but the evidence is not strong," Trenberth said.

The paper looks at a rather short time to measure a trend, Robock added, "but the results they get certainly look reasonable, and much of the paper is looking at much longer trends."

The research was supported by Australian, European and other international agencies. ___ On the Net: PNAS: http://www.pnas.org

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