Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere surged in 2016 to the highest level in 800,000 years, World Meteorological Organization's Greenhouse Gas Bulletin disclosed.
The abrupt changes at a record-breaking speed in the atmosphere witnessed in the past 70 years are without precedent, it added.
Globally averaged concentrations of carbon dioxide reached 403.3 parts per million (ppm) in 2016, up from 400 ppm in 2015 because of a combination of human activities and a strong El Niño event.
The concentrations of the gas are now 145 percent of pre-industrial (before 1750) levels, the bulletin elaborated.
Rapidly increasing atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have the potential to initiate unprecedented changes in climate systems, leading to “severe ecological and economic disruptions.
The observations based on reports from WMO Global Atmosphere Watch Program help track the changing levels of greenhouse gases and serve as early warning system for changes in these key atmospheric drivers of climate change, the annual bulletin stated.
Since 1990, there has been a 40 percent increase in total radiative forcing --- the warming effect on our climate --- by all long-lived greenhouse gases, and a 2.5 percent increase from 2015 to 2016 alone, according to figures from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration quoted in the bulletin.
“Without rapid cuts in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, we will be heading for dangerous temperature increases by the end of this century, well above the target set by the Paris climate change agreement,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas was quoted as saying.
“Future generations will inherit a much more inhospitable planet”, he warned.