Earlier this year, the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide hit a new record: almost 50% higher than the pre-industrial era. Now, a new study warns that as more carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, it becomes a more potent greenhouse gas.
Published during the ongoing United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28, the study, led by researchers at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science, shows that the strength of greenhouse gases increases with the rise in their concentrations. The researchers emphasise that carbon emissions must be curbed sooner to avoid the most severe impacts of the climate crisis.
The researchers used state-of-the-art climate models and tools to examine the impact of increasing carbon dioxide levels on a specific region of the stratosphere or the upper atmosphere. They found that the stratosphere cooling leads to subsequent increases in carbon dioxide to have a larger heat-trapping effect, causing it to become more potent, a press statement from the university said.
Increases in carbon dioxide in the future will provide a more potent warming effect on climate compared to a similar increase in the past, lead author Haozhe He, points out in the statement. “This new understanding has significant implications for interpreting both past and future climate changes and implies that high carbon dioxide climates may be intrinsically more sensitive than low carbon dioxide climates,” He adds. The study was published in the journal Science.
The increasing levels of carbon dioxide have been a constant cause of concern. Earlier this year, a study published in Nature Climate Change in October warned that there was less than 250 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide remaining in the carbon budget for even a 50% chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C.
Meanwhile, researchers have been working on ways to reduce carbon dioxide’s effects and its concentration. For instance, in November, a study, published in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science, revealed that researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, have developed an efficient process through which carbon dioxide can be converted into a liquid or solid material that can be used like hydrogen or methanol to power a fuel cell and generate electricity.