Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere grew more in past 12 months than at any time in the past 56 years, according the measurements at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, the world's oldest continuous atmospheric measurement station.
Scientists say the spike is due to a combination of human activities and the El Niño weather pattern, according to an article at BBC.
Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide last year rose by the biggest margin since records began, according to a US federal science agency. The big jump in CO2 broke a record held since 1998, also a powerful El Niño year.
Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere fluctuate with the seasons but the overall trend is upward. The latest figures show that in January and February this year the levels of CO2 at Mauna Loa went through the symbolic 400ppm level.
Prior to 1800, say the US National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), atmospheric levels were 280ppm.
CO2 levels in the air have increased over 40% since 1880, as industry ramped up emissions. The build-up of those gases traps heat, which warm the planet and stoke extreme weather. Last year was the hottest year on record, according to multiple weather agencies.
The last time the Earth experienced such a sustained CO2 rise was between 11,000 and 17,000 years ago, in which period CO2 jumped by 80ppm. Today’s rate is 200 times faster, according to the Guardian.
The scientists say the latest figures should encourage global leaders to make progress on the Paris Climate Agreement.