How long does carbon dioxide remain in the atmosphere?
This section aims to highlight the fact that CO2 could remain in the atmosphere for up to two centuries before it is removed by various reactions, thereby increasing the importance of CO2 as a greenhouse gas. The time taken for atmospheric gases to adjust to changes in sources or sinks is known as the atmospheric lifetime of a gas. The atmospheric lifetime of carbon dioxide is in the order of 50-200 years. As a consequence of this, CO2 emitted into the atmosphere today could influence the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide for up to two centuries to come. The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted that if anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide continue at present day levels, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide could have increased to 415-480 ppmv by 2050, rising to 460-560 ppmv by 2100. What can be done to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? Scientific concern over the contribution to global warming of increasing CO2