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Scientists Accurately Predict 2016 CO2 Levels

A team of scientists was able to predict with substantial accuracy the highest and lowest levels of atmospheric CO2 concentrations and when they would occur. Writing on the website CarbonBrief, Professor Richard Betts explained that he and his team were able to predict within 0.08 parts per million that the highest concentrations of CO2 would occur in May of 2016. The team was not quite as accurate in predicting the lowest concentrations but was well within the margin of error. The basis for their spot-on predictions was the team’s initial forecast that CO2 levels would rise 3.15 ± 0.53ppm, a record annual increase. Such an increase would make 2016 the first year in which average concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere would stay above 400 parts per million.

 ForecastActual
Average404.45 ± 0.53 ppm404.25 (-0.2 ppm)*
High407.57 ± 0.53 ppm407.65 ppm (+0.08 ppm)
Low401.48 ± 0.53 ppm401.01 (-0.47 ppm)

*Note: Actual average based on 11 months of data (Jan-Nov 2016), based on Scripps Monthly CO2 Data, Updated December 4, 2016. Will be updated when December level is published at https://www.co2.earth/monthly-co2.

As has been pointed out elsewhere many times, climate science is extremely complicated. That Betts and his team were able to make such accurate predictions almost a year in advance is another notable achievement and further evidence of the predictive capabilities of climate modeling.

For more on the reliability of climate models, take a look at this page on Skeptical Science.