Kunuk Nielsen navigates his boat among calved icebergs from the nearby Twin Glaciers on July 31, 2013 in Qaqortoq, Greenland.
Joe Raedle—Getty Images
By Dan Kedmey
September 9, 2014

The concentration of carbon in the earth’s atmosphere climbed at a faster rate last year than any year since 1984, according to a new study from the World Meteorological Organization.

The study also measured new highs in concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide, which the United Nations agency’s scientists warned would have a warming effect on the earth’s climate.

Preliminary data suggests that greenhouse gases may have risen not only because of emissions, but also because of a reduced uptake of carbon by the oceans and the biosphere. Together, they absorb 50% of carbon emissions, the study’s authors note, resulting in record high rates of ocean acidification.

“We know without any doubt that our climate is changing and our weather is becoming more extreme due to human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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