Green house gases hit record high
Two weeks before the latest round of UN climate talks in South Africa, the World Meteorological Organization has warned that concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere rose to yet another high in 2010.
The average level of carbon dioxide (CO2) has been 2.0 parts per million for the past decade but it rose to 2.3 parts per million between 2009 and 2010.
The WMO also said levels of methane - considered the second most important greenhouse gas - had risen after a period of relative stabilisation from 1999 to 2006. One explanation for the rises is the thawing of the Northern permafrost and increased emissions from tropical wetlands.
The report comes the week after another UN body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), found temperatures were almost certain to rise over the coming century, potentially increasing heavy rainstorms and droughts.
The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere increased to 389 parts per million molecules of air in 2010, a rise of 2.3 parts per million on the previous year, which represents a larger increase than the average for the 1990s and the past decade.
Meanwhile methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, grew to 1,806 parts per billion and nitrous oxide rose to 323.3 parts per billion.
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), potent greenhouse gases that last far longer in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, are also on the increase according to a separate UN report released today.
The International Energy Agency warned earlier this month that the world was just five years away from irreversible climate change and, ahead of the Durban climate change conference, WMO secretary-general Michel Jarraud called for urgent action to limit emissions.