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The global oxygen budget and its future projection

Huang, Jianping, Huang, Jiping, Liu, Xiaoyue, Li, Changyu, Ding, Lei, Yu, Haipeng
Science bulletin 2018 v.63 no.18 pp. 1180-1186
energy, fossil fuels, fuel combustion, humans, oxygen, oxygen consumption, oxygen production
Atmospheric oxygen (O2) is the most crucial element on earth for the aerobic organisms that depend on it to release energy from carbon-based macromolecules. This is the first study to systematically analyze the global O2 budget and its changes over the past 100 years. It is found that anthropogenic fossil fuel combustion is the largest contributor to the current O2 deficit, which consumed 2.0 Gt/a in 1900 and has increased to 38.2 Gt/a by 2015. Under the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) RCP8.5 scenario, approximately 100Gt (gigatonnes) of O2 would be removed from the atmosphere per year until 2100, and the O2 concentration will decrease from its current level of 20.946% to 20.825%. Human activities have caused irreversible decline of atmospheric O2. It is time to take actions to promote O2 production and reduce O2 consumption.