Math! How much CO2 by weight in the atmosphere?

According to wikipedia (CO2):

As of January 2007, the earth’s atmospheric CO2 concentration is about 0.0383% by volume (383 ppmv) or 0.0582% by weight. This represents about 2.996×1012 tonnes, and is estimated to be 105 ppm (37.77%) above the pre-industrial average.

CO2 concentration by weight is obtained by the formula below:

0.0383 V% x [44.0095/28.97] = 0.0582 m% CO2

whereby molar mass=44.0095 g/mole
and mean molar mass of air=28.97 g/mole

Then, to obtain the total mass of CO2, via wikipedia: according to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, “The total mean mass of the atmosphere is 5.1480×1018 kg.

Thus, the total weight of CO2 = 0.0582% x 5.1480 x 1015 tonnes
  = 2.996×1012 tonnes.

By applying the same formula, 4 other different values of CO2 concentration at different timeline as listed in the table below. Year 1750 is used for pre-industrial era (Industrial Revolution), 310 ppmv is obtained via the graph in 1960, and 2 predictions for year 2100 done by IPCC. The corresponding CO2 by total weight is calculated.


From year 1750 to 1960, additional 250 000 million tonnes CO2, or at the rate of 1190.48 million tonnes per year are added into atmosphere.

From year 1960 to 2007, another 570 000 million tonnes of CO2 are dumped into atmosphere, at much higher rate: 12127.7 million tonnes per year, which is about 10 times faster than the previous 2 centuries!

As of year 2002, human activities, especially fuel burning released 24,126.1 million tonnes of CO2 per year. This number is twice (2x) higher the rate calculated above. Could it mean that half of the CO2 released by human activity is managed to absorbed by carbon sink agents and thus not accounted into the CO2 concentration reading?

Let’s look at the future. IPCC gave 2 scenarios of the CO2 concentration (ppmv) by the year of 2100, 93 years away.

  • To achieve 571 ppmv, the additional CO2 needed to add into atmosphere is 1.235 ×1012 tonnes, or 13 279.6 million tonnes per year. This is half of the rate of CO2 we are releasing today.
  • To achieve 970 ppmv CO2 concentration, 4.558 x 1012 tonnes CO2, or 49 333.3 million tonnes per year is released.  This is twice (2x) the number on CO2 emission rate  what we are doing today!         

Another perspective of looking at these numbers. At 2002, human activity released 24 216.1 million tonnes of CO2.  Compared to the total CO2 mass in year 1750 (assuming it is in the state of equilibrium by then), that is accounted only 1.11%.  What could this number mean?


  1. March 31, 2007 at 4:07 am

    [...] Monthly atmospheric CO2 records from 10 sites around the world is collected: Mauna Loa, Barrow, American Samoa, South Pole, Alert, Cape Kumukahi, Christmas Island, Baring Head, Kermadec Island, and La Jolla Pier. The concentration of CO2 in volume fraction (ppmv) is then translate into mass fraction and the weight of CO2 at particular year is then calculated (see previous post here). [...]

  2. April 4, 2007 at 5:21 am

    [...] 5.20 to 6.60 ppmv. By converting the concentration value in ppmv, the weight of CO2 is calculated (like example here). The weight of CO2 is listed in the table [...]

  3. C said,

    January 31, 2008 at 3:02 am

    Research in 2007 has proven that we have had as much as 600 ppm in the atmosphere as recently as 1942. You can find the research and papers here.

    180 Years of atmospheric CO 2 Gas Analysis by Chemical Methods

  4. Billgls said,

    September 12, 2008 at 1:40 am

    Carbon Dioxide is heavier than air. If it covered the earth in sufficient amount to block spectrums of sunlight, would it not smother all animals on earth?

  5. Ross Geller said,

    December 16, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    i am VERY satisfied with this website. i think the information was amazing and informational. Thank you!

  6. Devin Walsh said,

    December 16, 2009 at 4:34 pm


  7. Devin Walsh said,

    December 16, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    i love those

  8. January 1, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    [...] science — stone1343 @ 12:13 pm For how much the CO2 in the atmosphere weighs, best might be but I can outline simple calculations for you to do it (surface area of Earth * 14.7 psi air [...]

  9. January 5, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    [...] gigatonnes total CO2 in the atmosphere, another easily verifiable fact (here’s a reference, and it also lists the weight of CO2 for a few different concentrations). Wikipedia confirms both of [...]

  10. John Higgins said,

    July 13, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Is it correct that humans only contribute approx 3% of the CO2 in the atmosphere and that the majority of CO2 is created by warming of the sea?

    People are focused on human CO2 generation but I think population growth and the resultant deforestation is a major concern? What do you think?

    It is great to see the actual tonnage of CO2 as most people cannot comprehend how much CO2 is in the atmosphere…and the alarmists always quote in absolute weight rather than percentage!!

  11. SUGAT said,

    September 15, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    I want to calculate the weight (in grams) of CO2 in say 1.0 litre of Air if say the concentration of CO2 is 360 ppm.
    How do I do this ?
    Would you kindly let me know.
    Thanks in anticipation

  12. Watson said,

    October 17, 2010 at 2:00 am

    Did no one ever notice this?
    “The total mean mass of the atmosphere is 5.1480×1018 kg.

    Thus, the total weight of CO2 = 0.0582% x 5.1480 x 1015 tonnes
    = 2.996×1012 tonnes.

    The mass of the atmosphere is magically reduced by a factor of 1000 times in the body of the calculation, and is not corrected in the final answer, which should read 2.996 x 1015 tonnes as agreed by most authorities, including Wikipedia

    • JD said,

      February 28, 2012 at 2:50 am

      Hello Watson,
      there is no error here, actually, because the units were changed. The first unit was ‘kilograms’ afterwards is was expressed in ‘tonnes’, which is 1000 kg, so the exponent was reduced by 3 correctly. It’s about 3 x10^12. Which by the way about 5 hundredths of one percent of the total atmosphere.

      • thefaulkrum said,

        February 28, 2012 at 6:35 am

        so let me get this strieght, thats 3×10^12 TON. (three million millon or three trillion Tons.)

  13. Crazy Bill said,

    November 22, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    Watson check your maths.

    A few more numbers. Emissions are growing at 2% p.a. That means that they double every 30 years unless we do something about slowing down burning of oil and coal.

    If not, the 24GT/yr in 2002 given above will be about 50GT/yr in 2040s and 100GT/yr in 2080s. The 970ppmv at 2100 isn’t improbable if things keep going the way they have been..

  14. Mr Meh said,

    December 4, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Now go and do the integration of the hubbert curve of peek oil and look at the total amount of oil produced/consumed, convert that to tonnes of CO2 assuming around 317kg per barrel. I get a figure of around 2.02 e+11 tonnes. Thats basically all thats come from oil alone since around 1900.

    • stephen last said,

      May 14, 2011 at 4:01 pm

      Thats exactly my point. How can we double our production of co2 when oil is going to peak in a couple of decades. Surely we would need to double the number of cars on the road,double the number of coal fired generators and double the amount of cement produced – I doubt that we have enough resources to do that.

  15. steven last said,

    January 19, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    they wouldn,t reach those figures in 2100 because we haven,t got enough oil reserves to burn that much and the population isn,t likely to double.

    • Pacho Gangotena said,

      May 13, 2011 at 10:51 pm

      I am doing some estimations in agriculture in relation to organic matter.
      I would like to know the amount (in pounds or kilos) of carbon and of CO2 in the air above an hectare (I mean, in the 10 km of atmosphere).

  16. steve said,

    June 17, 2011 at 4:47 am

    This whole man caused climate change by co-2 argument is BS when the number one greenhouse gas is Water vapor an It accounts for 75% 0f the atmosphere and can vary by 4% which is 10,000 times the amount of co-2 in the atmosphere which is .0383%. I’ll give more thought into what I want for dinner than worrying about the amount of co-2 even if it doubles in the next 100 years. The pointy head academics in the world are willing to scarafice a countries ecomcomy ie USA on BS. Go to H*** A holes. For the rest of you look at the gastault view and put into perspective.

  17. Spike Lee said,

    January 31, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Spike Lee Are we on the correct place for facebook ipo? facebook forwarded us right here so I suppose I must be

  18. Crispin in Waterloo said,

    April 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    The carbonaceous resources of the planet are probably enough to raise the CO2 to 530 ppm (140 above present) considering the absorption of CO2 by the oceans and plants. Climate realists will have noticed that the ‘emission’ is sated as if it is net. It is not. The US in particular is absorbing a great deal of CO2 with the re-growth of the Easter Forests.

    The expansion of oceans, perhaps to their 2 m higher former levels, will happen as ice sheets melt. This creates >200,000 cubic kilometers of new seawater which will absorb a vast amount of CO2 to bring it up to the current 0.03% contained in sea water. If you want a number on it, a metre rise in sea level from meltwater would absorb 35 billion tons of CO2. There is a heck of a lot more ice on just Greenland than that 200k. It is about 5m cubic km. It has not disappeared completely in a long time, but lots of it could. New seawater stabilises its own pH and the atmosphere may find itself stripped of CO2 rather efficiently.

  19. derk pfannenstiel said,

    September 15, 2012 at 4:41 am

    I wonder if we have caused, or are adding to the increased rate of global warming by our good deed of recycling of paper products. The rate of global warming has increased as paper product recycling has increased and paper is just a form of carbon which we used to sequester by throwing in the dump. A very rough look (I am not a scientist, nor have good data) shows that the world produces about 300 million metric tons of paper products a year, of which 63% is recycled or about 200 million metric tonnes which according to one web site is equivalent to about 360 million metric tonnes of CO2 we are not sequestering a year. Wonder if any actual scientists could run the numbers. Thanks

  20. October 14, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    [...] [...]

  21. simulator said,

    April 13, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Make sure you only use clean balls for playing on indoor simulator.

    Sub-Genre: Reality Simulation – Person-centered reality simulation games provide the user with
    the ability to control a single, or sometimes a handful, of individual
    characters. The End of Military Flight Sim Pro With this program you can take
    advantage of the military aspects of the game, landing and takeoff of an airplane taking includes carrier.
    Hardness is less then quartz, or ca 6 on Mohs scale.

    Types of settings provided by Mobile Simulators:
    – Configuration Settings- Simulators helps in configuring mobile device with the necessary settings required to
    access internet.

  22. August 3, 2013 at 4:06 am

    Many of the chicken delicacies are also possible to be made by mixing some spices with other daily use items
    such as coconut, loaf, onion, garlic, mushroom, etc.

    Grill a few minutes on each side, until very golden.
    If you desire a longer and better quality of life choosing include HEALTHY EATING
    HABITS into your lifestyle is a smart choice.

  23. Louis said,

    September 18, 2013 at 4:41 pm


    Your calculation shows an increase of 73 CO2 ppmv from 1960 to 2007.

    Now let’s assume the relationship between CO2 ppmv & temperature is correct and have a look at figure 5 (

    An additionnal 73 CO2 ppmv represents about 10 more °C : Oooooops !
    Assuming the way we think is correct :
    – Something is happening to CO2 up there, or this is gonna heat very fast !

  24. Latesha said,

    October 15, 2013 at 9:02 am

    If you would like to improve your experience just keep visiting this web
    page and be updated with the latest news update posted here.

  25. Swiflefly said,

    November 28, 2013 at 4:32 am

    UGG has become absolutely a name regarded by people of any kind of age and of any kind of nation nowadays. What contributes to its great success the best must be that outstanding material. Originating on the log onto beach of Australia, it had been found incomparable comfortable from the Aussie nearly ages ago. Sheep shearers who could get the best part with sheepskin used it in order to wrap on their toes all year around because of a shortage of sun. You may hear persons related UGG with unpleasant boots, don you? It is right completely. An interesting story tells us “ugly” comes out due to the first line of shoes coming from a company manufacturing sheepskin footwear are 100% ugly. Who knows whether this is true? However, people tend to like comfort on these sheepskin boots more than watching whether they are definitely not beautiful later. Asking any one who owns a couple of sheepskin boot why to choose them, you will get the same answer of just any sweet smile or any tacit wink?
    [url=][/url] 高品質のUGG アグ クラシック ミニ ブーツ Classic Mini Boots ブラック激安通販
    [url=][/url] 【超特価】 UGG アグ ブーツ スパークルクラシック ショート classic short sparkles ブルー激安通販
    The worldwide reputation on UGG boots seriously isn’t reflected on common people for example kids, college students, working people and so on. Well-known celebrities such when Paris Hilton, Solange Knowles, Vanessa Williams were photographed wearing these in the process. Can this be a powerful retort on their “ugly” looks? Do you think these beautiful women are likely to harm their charming shots? They will not without doubt! Australian twin-faced merino sheepskin presents UGG boots with elegant and sleek images functionally. While being folded lower, their exposed sheepskin might appear to be showing its incomparable ease and comfort and luck loved by means of numerous people from different nations. Some of us tend to think they are somewhat luxurious to wear. However, is there any else reason more attractive than being dynamic and also enjoying cold winter? Sheepskin boots enable us to become regaled even in your coldest days.

  26. January 8, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    After looking into a number of the blog posts on your web
    site, I truly appreciate your technique of blogging.
    I bookmarked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back in the near future.
    Please check out my website too and tell me your opinion.

  27. January 19, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Excellent goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you are just too great.
    I really like what you have acquired here, really like what you are saying and the way
    in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still take care of to keepp it sensible.

    I cant wait to read much more from you. This iss actually a tremendous

  28. said,

    January 20, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Thanks for your personal marvelous posting!

    I quite enjoyed reading it, you are a great author.
    I will remember to bookmark your blog and will come back sometime soon.
    I want to encourage yourself to continue your great writing, haave a nice evening!

  29. January 20, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Today, while I was at work, my cousin stole my apple ipad and tested to see if it
    can survive a forty foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation.
    My iPad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is
    completely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  30. Nick Schroeder, BSME, PE said,

    March 3, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    Oh, great, another learning experience. So it turns out that when “they” talk about atmospheric ppm it is based on volume, ppmv. When “they” discuss human produced CO2 it’s on a mass basis. If this were a high school term paper I’d mark it down for mixing and mis-matching units without explanation. So I reworked my calc. using specific volumes to get all constituents on a ppmm basis. The 30.2 ppmm human CO2 value comes from the 4 C warming report by the World Bank. What did I conclude? 80% of the CO2 concentration increase since 1959 cannot be attributed to man. Now what? Point the way. If I’m off track, step right up. Included my work.

    Specific Volume, cu ft/lb
    Air 13.063 cu ft/lb
    CO2 8.548 cu ft/lb
    Mass 5.15E+18 kg
    lb/kg 2.2046
    Mass 1.14E+19 lb
    Cubic Feet 1.48E+20 cu ft
    Carbon Dioxide, CO2
    Vol Conc. CO2 400 ppmv
    CO2 5.93E+16 cu ft
    Mass CO2 6.94E+15 lb
    Mass Conc CO2 611.28 ppmm
    ppmm/ppmv 1.53
    ppmv ppmm
    260 397.3
    280 427.9
    390 596.0
    Δ 390 to 260 198.7
    Δ 390 to 280 168.1
    Δ man 30.6
    % man 15.4%
    % man 18.2%

  31. Nick Schroeder, BSME, PE said,

    March 3, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    Sorry, had to find where I left this.

    According to the 4 C Warmer World Report, atmospheric CO2 concentrations since 1959 have risen from the 260 to 280 ppm range to 391 ppm in September, 2012, an increase of 110 to 130 ppm.
    The report also states that since 1959 “…approximately 350 tonnes of carbon have been emitted through human activity, of which 55 percent has been taken up by the ocean…” So since 1959 human activity has contributed 158 tonnes to the atmosphere. That’s 30.6 ppm. Where did the rest come from? And what shall be done about it?

    • Crispin in Waterloo said,

      March 4, 2014 at 3:48 am

      It seems the 4 degrees is an old figure from 2007 IPCC AR4. In January 2014 without announcement, it has been reduced to 2.1 degrees for a doubling of CO2 concentration.

      The PhD thesis of Dr Willem Nel shows that it is very unlikely that human emissions can drive it above 530 ppm and then the carbon-based fuels are simply not available in quantities sufficient to overcome the natural sinks.

      The interesting implication is that at the current sensitivity estimates (many are lower) it is basically impossible for the globe by be heated by 1 degree C by human activities releasing CO2.

      To quote Nick, “And what shall be done about it?”

  32. Nick Schroeder, BSME, PE said,

    March 6, 2014 at 2:23 am

    Reference: World Bank 4 C Warming Report.
    In 1959 atmospheric CO2 concentration was 316 ppmv, 483 ppmm, 2.5E12 tonnes.
    In 2012 atmospheric CO2 concentration was 391 ppmv, 598 ppmm, 3.08E12 tonnes.
    The net increase is .590E12 tonnes.
    Between 1959 and 2012 human activity produced .35E12 tonnes 55% of which was absorbed by oceans and land leaving .193E12 tonnes into the atmosphere.
    .193E12 divided by 0.590E12 = 32.7% human contribution.

  33. March 24, 2014 at 6:11 am

    Additional requirements include the submission of two professional references.

    Given that 2008 consumer skepticism across the board even from repeat and referral
    clients is at an all time high. The other sites
    that don’t appear on the first page will most likely show up on pages two and three.

  34. June 7, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    This design is spectacular! You certainly
    know how to keep a reader entertained. Between your wit and your videos,
    I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Wonderful
    job. I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!

  35. July 9, 2014 at 1:21 am

    Thanks for finally talking about >Math! How much CO2
    by weight in the atmosphere? | small-m <Liked it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: