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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations / Atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations (CSI 013) - Assessment published Oct 2005

Atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations (CSI 013) - Assessment published Oct 2005

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Generic metadata

Topics:

Climate change Climate change (Primary topic)

Tags:
climate | csi
DPSIR: State
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 013
Geographical coverage:

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Contents
 

Key policy question: What is the trend in greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere? Will it remain below 450 ppm CO2-equivalent giving a 50% probability that the global temperature rise will not exceed 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels?

Key messages

The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, has increased by 34 % compared with pre-industrial levels as a result of human activities, with an accelerated rise since 1950. Other greenhouse gas concentrations have also risen as a result of human activities. The present concentrations of CO2 and CH4 have not been exceeded during the past 420 000 years and the present N2O concentration during at least the past 1 000 years.

IPCC (2001) baseline projections show that greenhouse gas concentrations are likely to exceed the level of 550 ppm CO2-equivalent in the next few decades (before 2050).

Measured and projected concentrations of 'Kyoto' greenhouse gases

Note: N/A

Data source:

SIO; ALE/GAGE/AGAGE; NOAA/CMDL; IPCC, 2001

Downloads and more info

Key assessment

The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increased during the 20th century as a result of human activities, mostly related to the use of fossil fuels (e.g. for electric power generation), agricultural activities and land-use change (mainly deforestation), and continue to increase. The increase has been particularly rapid since 1950. Compared with the pre-industrial era (before 1750), concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) have increased by 34 %, 153 %, and 17 %, respectively. The present concentrations of CO2 (372 parts per million, ppm) and CH4 (1772 part per billion, ppb) have not been exceeded during the past 420 000 years (for CO2 probably not even during the past 20 million years); the present N2O concentration (317 ppb) has not been exceeded during at least the past 1 000 years.

The IPCC (2001) showed various projected future greenhouse gas concentrations for the 21st century, varying due to a range of scenarios of socio-economic, technological and demographic developments. These scenarios assume no implementation of specific climate-driven policy measures. Under these scenarios, greenhouse gas concentrations are estimated to increase to 650-1 350 ppm CO2-equivalent by 2100. It is very likely that fossil fuel burning will be the major cause of this increase in the 21st century.

The IPCC projections show that global atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations are likely to exceed 550 ppm CO2-equivalent in the next few decades (before 2050). If this level is exceeded, there is little chance that global temperature rise will stay below the EU target of not more than 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. Substantial global emission reductions are therefore necessary to meet this target.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Blaz Kurnik

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2010 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 1 year in January-March (Q1)
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European Environment Agency (EEA)
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1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100