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Carbon dioxide spikes to critical record, halfway to doubling preindustrial levels

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Mauna Loa ObservatoryFor the first time in recorded history, the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, or CO2, was measured at more than 420 parts per million at the Mauna Loa Observatory on the Big Island of Hawaii. It’s a disconcerting milestone in the human-induced warming of the planet, around the halfway point on our path toward doubling preindustrial CO2 levels.

The research station, at an elevation of 11,135 feet on the summit of a picturesque volcano, has been monitoring the weather and chemistry of the atmosphere continuously since the 1950s. Its location allows it to sample some of the purest air available, providing scientists an untainted representation of how humans are irreversibly influencing climate systems.


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