NOAA: Time history of atmospheric CO2

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has an entire “CarbonTracker” page “to keep track of carbon dioxide uptake and release at the Earth’s surface over time.”

Their CarbonTracker Channel on YouTube has some great videos.  The best one is the “Time history of atmospheric CO2,” which charts the rise of CO2 over the last few decades then back through the past 800,000 years:

Watch this in full screen HD if you can.


13 Responses to NOAA: Time history of atmospheric CO2

  1. Jeffrey Davis says:

    What would be scary would be to map the corresponding rise in temps along with this.

    Well, if you have eyes to see with, it would be scary.

  2. Barry says:

    A 50% increase in CO2 (185 to 278) was enough to remove mile thick ice sheets from much of northern hemisphere and rearrange the climate zones for most of the planet.

    And in just the last few decades we have increased CO2 by another 40%. Plus we are still accelerating the rate we add CO2…heading rapidly for more 100% increase soon under biz-as-now.

    Seems safe to me. What could go wrong?

    Only “reality based” whiners care about the world’s deep, fertile soils continuing to have climate zones and rainfall suitable to grow staple crops. We can just start growing our wheat and corn and rice on the glacial scraped rocks of the northern darkness.

    Yummy full tummy.

  3. Jim Beacon says:

    *sigh*… it’s clear that the good scientific minds at NOAA still have not learned their messaging lesson — just as all the scientists who continue to issue press releases on climate change with citations given in degrees Celsius without accompanying Fahrenheit equivalents. The very last frame of this video should be a stand alone chart on the “Executive Summary” page of their website’s CarbonTracker page at:

    Executives (and most regular people) do not have the inclination or the expertise to go through and interpret all the secret science-language coding. Just show them one chart that clearly shows ice cores from *all over the world* agreeing that total atmospheric CO2 is now far higher than anytime in the last 800,000 years (and don’t say ‘ykBCE’ either).

    That’s the message — and that’s all they need or want to know. The rest of the stuff is of no interest to the average person and just gets in the way of getting the message into their heads.

    The recent decade of attacks on the scientific community has in part been brought on by themselves for refusing to message in terms the avearge man and woman in the street can quickly understand. They have helped the deniers make propaganda with their own reports and press releases where they (inadverntly) present themselves as elitists and set themselves up for resentment and eventual attack.

    Basic public relations and Messaging 101 should be a required part of any scientists early college education.

  4. Regardless of the units or the fact someone might have to view a movie for 3 and 1/2 minutes to understand how atmospheric carbon dioxide has changed without and with humans, I think it is TERRIFIC.

    I plan to integrate the movie into the public forum slide shows I give throughout Florida. It may require some tuning, but I’m sure anyone in my audience who watches the movie will be forever changed; with or without accompanying Fahrenheit equivalents. Thank you NOAA.

  5. Scott says:

    Why the drop in CO2 each year in the summer months in the northern hemisphere, but not the southern hemishpere?

  6. Edith Wiethorn says:

    The experience I will detail here re connecting to the Climate Progress website today may also be part of a
    spam or hack attack. I usually reach CP by clicking on a link in the CP RSS gadget on my iGoogle home page. Today all three links produced the following content-in-a-box under this URL: is categorized as security.proxy

    The requested page has been blocked by the content filter because it is in violation of the internet acceptable usage policy set by the administration.
    If you would like to authenticate you may login.
    If you feel this website should be allowed you may submit it for review.

    Google should be a robust ally for Climate Progress in dealing with this illegal interference.

  7. Mimikatz says:

    Scott @ 8: I am not a scientist but I think the difference between the hemispheres is that the Northern has much more land (and deciduous plants) than the Southern, which is mostly ocean. So the difference between winter and summer for vegetation giving off CO2 is greater in the North than the South.

  8. Sou says:

    @ Scott #8 – the northern hemisphere has a lot more land surface with plants that go dormant in winter than the southern hemisphere does. When the plants become active with new growth again towards the end of winter more start absorbing more CO2 through photosynthesis. Also when daylight hours are longer, photosynthesis is operating for a longer time.

  9. Sou says:

    That is an excellent video. Will add it to the references on my web site. Thank you.

  10. Edith Wiethorn says:

    Note: the hack I referenced in comment #9 has transmitted a virus to my Mac laptop. This virus now shows
    the Access Denied Box image on my iGoogle home page [within an unrelated Google gadget] and on an
    international website I just visited & will not name here. CP: Contact me by email if you wish.

  11. Tom Gibbons says:

    When showing the web site videos to people, make sure to point out that the scale changes at the bottom. Thus the dark red, as well as the other colors, mean higher concentrations in the later years than in the earlier ones. The scale numbers run from 360 ppm to 375 ppm in 2000, but they run from 375 to 390 in 2008. That is how the growth in carbon dioxide concentration shows up, and it is not really very dramatic. It would be more dramatic if a consistent scale of colors could be developed to span the entire range so that the color change would be obvious as the years go by. I suppose that it might not be feasible since it would require twice the number of different colors, but it is something to think about.

  12. Tom Gibbons says:

    Just notice what this shows about the earth’s atmospheric circulation. You can see the isolation of Antarctica, for example, by the air currents centered on the latitude of the Drake Passage – about 60 degrees south. Watch the waves of higher or lower concentration (green or dark blue – depending on the season) coming from, for example, the Brazilian rain forest, getting caught in this circulation and dissipating thus smoothing out the changes over Antarctica quite a bit. It doesn’t get the really deep blue or the green. Of course, the Peninsula gets somewhat more change, sticking up to the north the way it does.

    In the northern hemisphere, you can see the seasonal changes originating on much of North America and the extreme northern parts of Siberia and then spreading around in just a few days. I suppose that is just what methane released from permafrost will do. The storm systems in North America and in the rest of the hemisphere show up as waves from the north carrying different CO2 concentrations.

    I have a question. What kinds of plants are involved in those seasonal changes in extreme northern Asia? Are there really that many trees there, or is it something else? Some of the change seems to be originating even farther north. What is causing that?

  13. Tony says:

    Great video, but it really could use a narrator and some low-key music. It probably takes a fair amount of background, which most of us have, to really understand what is going on. People, generally, really are very ignorant about science, let alone climate science.