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Showing posts from November, 2013

Global carbon budget reveals dangerous footprints

Carbon dioxide is the most important greenhouse gas produced by human activities, and one which is likely to cause significant global climate change if levels continue to increase at the current rates. This year's Global Carbon Budget holds disappointing yet hardly unexpected news; in 2012, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose by 2.1% to the highest levels in human history, a total of 9.7 billion tonnes.
The annual Carbon Budget report is compiled by the Global Carbon Project, a collaboration of 77 scientists from around the world including the Cabot Institute's own Dr Jo House. They predict that in 2013, global carbon emissions will have increased by a further 2.1%, setting a new record high.
Major CO2 emitters

China produced the most CO2 in 2012 (27% of total), which was almost twice as much as the second worst offender, the USA (14%). The European Union (EU) contributed 10% of emissions. China's emissions increased 5.9% between 2011 and 2012, whilst the USA and EU continued…

35 years monitoring the changing composition of our atmosphere

I work on an experiment that began when the Bee Gees’ Stayin’ Alive was at the top of the charts. The project is called AGAGE, the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment, and I’m here in Boston, Massachusetts celebrating its 35-year anniversary. AGAGE began life in 1978 as the Atmospheric Lifetimes Experiment, ALE, and has been making high-frequency, high-precision measurements of atmospheric trace gases ever since.

At the time of its inception, the world had suddenly become aware of the potential dangers associated with CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons). What were previously thought to be harmless refrigerants and aerosol propellants were found to have a damaging influence on stratospheric ozone, which protects us from harmful ultraviolet radiation. The discovery of this ozone-depletion process was made by Mario Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland, for which they, and Paul Crutzen, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995. However, Molina and Rowland were not sure how long CFCs would persis…