For the second year in a row, carbon dioxide concentrations as measured at Mauna Loa Observatory rose at a record-fast clip, according to new data released by the Environmental System Research Laboratory (ESRL). The annual growth of 3 parts per million in 2016 is the slightest shade below the jump in 2015 of 3.03 ppm. Both years mark the first time carbon dioxide has risen more than 3 ppm in a single year in ESRL’s 59 years of monitoring.
An exceptionally strong El Niño helped kick the numbers up a bit, but ever-increasing carbon pollution is the main driver behind the uptick. The annual growth rate has increased since record keeping began in 1960 from just under 1 ppm in the 1960s to more than 2.4 ppm through the first half of the 2010s. The past two years have set a record for the fastest annual growth rate on record.