Carbon Monoxide in the Earth's Atmosphere: Increasing Trend

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Science  06 Apr 1984:
Vol. 224, Issue 4644, pp. 54-56
DOI: 10.1126/science.224.4644.54


The results of an analysis of more than 60,000 atmospheric measurements of carbon monoxide taken over 3½ years at Cape Meares, Oregon (45°N, 125°W), indicate that the background concentration of this gas is increasing. The rate of increase, although uncertain, is about 6 percent per year on average. Human activities are the likely cause of a substantial portion of this observed increase; however, because of the short atmospheric lifetime of carbon monoxide and the relatively few years of observations, fluctuations of sources and sinks related to the natural variability of climate may have affected the observed trend. Increased carbon monoxide may deplete tropospheric hydroxyl radicals, slowing down the removal of dozens of man-made and anthropogenic trace gases and thus indirectly affecting the earth's climate and possibly the stratospheric ozone layer.