Extreme Temperature Diary- Tuesday March 31st, 2020/ Main Topic: Is The COVID19 Crisis Bringing Down Carbon Atmospheric Concentrations Substantially?

Tuesday March 31st… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed at the very end of my article, below the news section for each day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials)😉

Main Topic: Is The COVID19 Crisis Bringing Down Carbon Atmospheric Concentrations Substantially?

Dear Diary. Obviously, if there is one small silver lining with COVID19, air around cities is getting cleaner because many people are hunkered down in place at home, not commuting to work. Also, this should mean that carbon emissions are down, which would be great for the environment. But is this really the case since industry and agriculture must continue to crank out products for our quality of life not to not be horrifically affected, with our very survival on the line?

Every so often I check the CO2 Now site to see if the rate of CO2 concentration has changed much. From year to year I’ve noticed since the turn of the century that the rate of rise is about 2.5 parts per million. Unfortunately, no matter what renewable technology has come on line since the year 2000, or during economic downturns such as occurred in 2008, that 2.5 parts per million annual increase has continued nearly unabated. Here is what we see for March 2020 compared with March 2019 from the following NOAA site:


Week beginning on March 22, 2020:   415.52 ppm
Weekly value from 1 year ago:   411.24 ppm
Weekly value from 10 years ago:   390.77 ppm

Last updated: March 31, 2020

Sigh. These figures are up over 4 ppm from a year ago.

Here is a Twitter thread I recently noticed on this topic:


By Robbie Andrew:

Atmospheric CO2 keeps climbing

First published: 7 October 2016

Download image: PNG | animated movie


The atmospheric concentration of CO2 has been steadily climbing since mankind began its long-term climate experiment of liberating long-buried fossil carbon. Before we began, concentration was below 300 ppm, but since then we have sent more than 2 trillion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. While some of that has been absorbed by land and ocean ‘sinks’, much of it remains in the atmosphere, and will stay there for many hundreds of years.

Almost all the variation from week to week is natural, probably a result of shifting wind patterns bringing different air parcels to the sampling site, such that it is highly unlikely that we can discern anthropogenic effects from week to week. The steady increase from year to year, however, is clearly driven by our global emissions.

In an article published in June 2016, Richard Betts and colleagues at the UK’s Met Office Hadley Centre forecast that the monthly average concentration of CO2 at Mauna Loa would remain above 400ppm all year “and hence for our lifetimes”. The figure above bears out the first part of that statement, and moreover shows that also weekly averages stayed above 400ppm throughout 2016.

In January 2020 the Met Office predicted that the annual mean CO2 concentration at Mauna Loa would be 414.2±0.6ppm. The figure below shows how their forecast is faring against monthly observations (see previous years’ forecasts lower down on this page; Note that the figure presents weekly concentrations from NOAA but monthly concentrations from Scripps, and as these datasets are entirely independent they do not always line up).

The seasonal cycle is dominated by northern hemisphere forests, following the pattern of plants’ photosynthesis, which stores CO2, and microbial decay, which releases it again (more info). The figure to the right shows the global average concentration since 1959 (click to enlarge).

Here’s another version of the Mauna Loa plot, with apologies to Hokusai (click to enlarge).

Data Sources

NOAA releases weekly average concentrations of CO2 measured at Mauna Loa, Hawaii here.

The forecast by the Met Office Hadley Centre is based on independent measurements of CO2 concentration at Mauna Loa made by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, available here.

This figure was inspired by similar ones produced by Climate Central here and here.

Previous years’ forecasts by the UK Met Office

In February 2017 the UK Met Office made a forecast for 2017, and the following figure indicates how well that forecast performed against measurements (click to enlarge). The success of this forecast was published in 2018.

In early 2018, Betts and colleagues repeated the forecast for 2018, and the figure below shows how they fared against observations reported by Scripps. Monthly forecast concentrations have an uncertainty of ±0.6 ppm, while the monthly observations have an uncertainty of about ±0.3 ppm.

In January 2019 the Met Office predicted that the annual mean CO2 concentration at Mauna Loa would be 411.3±0.6ppm.


I’m thinking that surely this 2-5 ppm increase if carbon per year in the atmosphere can’t continue because of the COVID 19 crisis. We will see as 2020 rolls along, though.

Here is more on today’s topic:

Now, here are some of todays articles on the horrendous coronavirus pandemic:

Here is more climate and weather news from Tuesday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article.)

(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.) 

Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”

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