Current carbon dioxide levels

This page is regularly updated with atmospheric carbon dioxide level data; based on the previous month in the current year and history of saturation levels for the same month dating back to 1958. The readings are taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii. 

Current/historic carbon dioxide levels

The average saturation levels in the table below are in parts per million. Note that over the entire record, CO2 saturation levels have rarely dropped in a current month comparison to same month in the previous year. Pre-industrial (recent history) levels are said to have been at around 280 parts per million.

The other very disturbing issue is that the figures below don't include other greenhouse gases such as methane, which are also on the rise.

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Carbon dioxide level graph

The following chart plots the monthly mean atmospheric carbon dioxide levels at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii

Chart/graph source : Dr. Pieter Tans, NOAA/ESRL

Why the zig zagging on the graph?

You've probably noticed that while the trend continues to rise, there's a very regular peak/trough effect right throughout the record. I've seen this explained as the "earth breathing in and out". 

Most of the earth's land mass is located in the northern hemisphere, as is most of the earth's vegetation. During autumn and winter, millions of tons of leaves fall fall from deciduous trees and as they decompose, they give off carbon dioxide. The trees themselves no longer process as much carbon dioxide as they are in somewhat of a dormant state. As a consequence, the earth's carbon dioxide levels rise.

Throughout the spring and summer days, leaves grow rapidly and a great deal of carbon dioxide is consumed in the growing of the leaves and subsequent normal respiration processes - so the CO2 level drops.

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