May 19, 2016

Carbon dioxide levels jump by record amount due to El Nino

by
Seth Borenstein
,
Associated Press
Photo: Jonathan Kingston, Getty Images
Photo: Jonathan Kingston, Getty Images

The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air jumped by the biggest amount on record last month, a rise amplified by El Nino, scientists say.

Carbon dioxide levels increased by 4.16 parts per million in April compared to a year earlier, according to readings at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. Until this year, the biggest increase was 3.7 ppm. Records go back to 1950.

April's carbon dioxide level of 407.42 was a record 2.59 ppm rise from March. Carbon dioxide levels are cyclical, peaking in May and then dropping until fall. That's on top of a steady 2.5 to 3 ppm yearly increase from the burning of fossil fuels, which means each year the world sets new record for levels of heat-trapping gas in the air