Greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, ocean heat and ocean acidification — the four leading indicators of climate change — set new records in 2021 with extreme weather — the everyday ‘face’ of climate change — causing hundreds of billions of dollars in economic losses , according to the WMO State of the Global Climate report for 2021, Wednesday.
“This is taking a huge toll on human life and well-being and triggering the shocks to food and water security and displacement that have been emphasized by 2022. This is another clear sign that human activities are causing planetary-scale changes on land, in the oceans and in the atmosphere, with dangerous and long-lasting consequences for sustainable development and ecosystems,” said the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
Global annual mean temperature differences were considered from pre-industrial conditions (1850-1900) for six global temperature data sets (1850-2021).
The WMO State of the Global Climate in 2021 report confirms that the past seven years have been the seven warmest on record and that 2021 is “only” one of the seven warmest due to La Nina events (a marine phenomenon in the Pacific) at the beginning and end of the year. “This has a temporary cooling effect, but does not reverse the overall trend of rising temperatures. Average global temperatures in 2021 will be around 1.11 (plus/minus 0.13) degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
“It is only a matter of time before we see another hottest year on record,” said WMO Secretary General Professor Petteri Taalas. “Heat trapped by human-caused greenhouse gases will warm the planet for generations to come. Sea level rise, ocean heat, and acidification will continue for hundreds of years unless a way to remove carbon from the atmosphere is found. Some glaciers have peaked. point of no return, and this will have a long-lasting impact on a world, where more than 2 billion people are already experiencing water stress.”
The report’s key findings include record high ocean heat — large parts of the ocean experience at least one ‘strong’ ocean heat wave at some point in 2021; ocean acidification findings reaffirm the conclusion of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the pH of open ocean surfaces is now the lowest for at least 26,000 years and the current rate of pH change is unprecedented; Global mean sea level reaches a new record high in 2021, after increasing by an average of 4.5 mm per year over the period 2013 -2021, which more than doubled between 1993 and 2002 and is mainly due to accelerated loss of ice mass of the ice sheet and in the case of the cryosphere, the glacier year 2020-2021 looks less melting than in recent years, but there is a clear trend toward accelerating mass loss on multi-decade timescales.
The report also talks about extreme heatwave drought, the ozone hole over Antarctica, famine, and internal displacement.
“Extreme weather has the most direct impact on our daily lives. Years of investment in disaster preparedness means we are better at saving lives, despite soaring economic losses. But more needs to be done, as we saw with the drought emergency happening. in the Horn of Africa, recent deadly floods in South Africa and extreme heat in India and Pakistan,” said Taalas.
“Early Warning Systems are indispensable for climate adaptation, yet they are only available in less than half of WMO members. We are committed to making early warning reach everyone within the next five years, as requested by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres,” he said.
The WMO State of the Global Climate report complements the IPCC Sixth Assessment report, which includes data up to 2019. The new WMO report provides policymakers with information and practical examples of how the climate change indicators outlined in the IPCC report played out over the past few years globally and how these implications linked to extremes have already been felt at the national and regional levels by 2021.
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