SURGING carbon dioxide levels have pushed greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to record highs, the World Meteorological Organisation has said.

Concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), the major cause of global warming, grew at their fastest rate for 30 years in 2013, despite warnings from scientists of the need to cut emissions.

Experts warned that the world is "running out of time" to reverse rising levels of carbon dioxide. Figures show levels of the gas increased more between 2012 and 2013 than during any other year since 1984, possibly due to less uptake of carbon dioxide by ecosystems such as forests, as well as rising emissions.

The WMO's annual greenhouse gas bulletin showed that in 2013 concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were 142 per cent greater than they were before the Industrial Revolution.

Other potent greenhouse gases have also risen significantly, with concentrations of methane now 253 per cent up and nitrous oxide 121 up on pre-industrial levels.

Between 1990 and 2013 the warming effect on the planet known as "radiative forcing" due to greenhouse gases rose by more than a third (34 per cent).

The bulletin reveals that around a quarter of carbon dioxide emissions are absorbed by the oceans and a further quarter by ecosystems.

But it said this comes at a cost, with the world's seas becoming more acidic at a rate not seen for at least 300 million years.

WMO secretary-general Michel Jarraud said the world was "running out of time"and "must reverse this trend by cutting emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases across the board".