Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Within the next year, carbon dioxide concentrations in Earth's atmosphere will surpass levels 50 percent greater than preindustrial levels during the 18th century, according to predictions by Britain's Met Office.
According to the calculations of Met scientists, CO2 concentrations measured at Mauna Loa Observatory, in Hawaii, will increase by 2.29 parts per million, plus or minus 0.55 ppm, in 2021.
Researchers arrived at the predictions after analyzing current and expected future carbon emissions and deforestation rates.
Scientists expect the current La Niña pattern in the Pacific to temporarily boost growth rates in tropical forests, accelerating carbon absorption. However, the pattern is likely to only barely offset rising carbon emissions.
CO2 levels in the atmosphere have been steadily rising over the last two centuries, but in any given year, atmospheric carbon concentrations fluctuate, peaking during the late summer-early spring.
Carbon levels typically dip in late summer as growing seasons peak and trees and plants take-up excess CO2.
Last week, according to NOAA, atmospheric concentrations of CO2 at Mauna Loa averaged 415.09 parts per million.
If the Met Office forecast proves correct, atmospheric carbon levels will surpass 417 parts per million for several weeks from April to June -- 50 percent greater than 278 parts per million, the average during the late 18th century.
"Since CO2 stays in the atmosphere for a very long time, each year's emissions add to those from previous years and cause the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere to keep increasing," Richard Betts, professor of climate science at Exeter University, said in a news release.
Betts serves as the head of the climate impacts strategic area at the Met Office and led the recent forecasting effort.
"Although the Covid-19 pandemic meant that 7 percent less CO2 was emitted worldwide in 2020 than in previous years, that still added to the ongoing build-up in the atmosphere," Betts said.
"Emissions have now returned almost to pre-pandemic levels, but their effect this year will be partly dampened for a while by the stronger natural sinks due to the La Niña," he said.