Global Climate Change Vital Signs Of The Planet

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an important heat-trapping (greenhouse) gas, which is released through human activities such as deforestation and burning fossil fuels, as well as natural processes such as respiration and volcanic eruptions. The first chart shows atmospheric CO2 levels in recent years, corrected for average seasonal cycles. The second chart shows CO2 levels during the last three glacial cycles, as reconstructed from ice cores.

The time series below shows global distribution and variation of the concentration of mid-tropospheric carbon dioxide in parts per million (ppm). The overall color of the map shifts toward the red with advancing time due to the annual increase of CO2.

Missions that observe CO2

Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS)

Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2)