This is evidenced by the annual report of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), the European service that collects data on the state of the atmosphere, the planet and the climate. The annual increase in atmospheric methane in 2020 and 2021 was much higher than in the past two decades. Satellite measurements show that the atmosphere has never been as high in methane as it was in 2021, at 1,876 parts per billion.
C3S researchers aren’t sure what caused this acceleration. Methane is released from swamps, oil and gas extraction, and agriculture. Also, the permanently frozen soil of the northern regions contains a lot of methane. Due to global warming, the permafrost begins to slowly thaw, which leads to the release of methane gas in it. Scientists have warned that this could eventually lead to a tipping point that will accelerate global warming.
Methane retains at least 100 times more heat than carbon dioxide2But it is very rare and decomposes in the atmosphere after about ten years. It is one of the most important greenhouse gases after carbon dioxide2.
At the Glasgow Climate Summit last year, more than 100 countries agreed to cut methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030 compared to 2020. However, the agreement is not legally binding, and major emitting nations such as China, Russia and India have not signed up.
As well as the concentration of carbon dioxide2 In the atmosphere it increased in 2021, to about 414 parts per million. Concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane continue to rise each year, with no signs of slowing down. These greenhouse gases are the main driver of climate change, said Vincent Henry Beuche, director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service. In 2021, there was nearly double and half the amount of carbon dioxide2 And more than twice and a half more methane in the atmosphere than it was before the industrial revolution.
The C3S Annual Report also discusses last year’s weather. The past seven years have been by far the seven warmest years on record worldwide, and 2021 comes in at number five. The temperature in 2021 was on average more than 1.1 degrees higher than the pre-industrial level. The goal of the Paris climate agreement is to limit this increase to 1.5 degrees.
In Europe, the summer of 2021 was the hottest on record, and in Sicily, the old European temperature record of 48 degrees Celsius was broken at 48.8 degrees Celsius. As the rest of the year was relatively cold, 2021 was outside of the ten warmest years on record in Europe.
C3S also refers to the large number of extreme weather events around the world, such as the floods that hit large parts of Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands in July. Other examples of such extremes mentioned in the report are the North American heat wave of June, when many local heat records were broken by several degrees, and the Mediterranean heat wave of July and August. In both cases, heat waves led to severe wildfires. More carbon dioxide came from North America2 More bushfire-free since measurements began in 2003.
2021 was another year of extreme temperatures with the hottest summers in Europe and heat waves in the Mediterranean, not to mention unprecedentedly high temperatures in North America, concludes Carlo Bontempo, C3S Director. “These events are a bad sign of the need to change the way we do things, take decisive and effective steps towards a sustainable society, and reduce our carbon emissions.”
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