UN climate report: No signs of slowing climate change

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The United Nations’ annual World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Climate Report was released this week and the latest data shows no change in trend.

Climate is changing faster than at any time in modern history and shows no sign of stopping.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres criticized what he called a grim litany of humanity’s failure to tackle climate disruption. It is true, the world has made little progress in overcoming its dependence on fossil fuels and the release of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

The report updates the state of climate change indicators for 2021 and outlines some of the more extreme weather events over the past year.

Since 1850, temperatures have risen by about 1.2 degrees Celsius, or 2 degrees Fahrenheit. It is the warmest on Earth in 125,000 years; since before the last ice age.

Earth’s surface temperature continues to increase.

A 2 degree increase in temperature may not seem like much, but if your body temperature rises from 99 to 101 degrees, you certainly won’t feel right.

However, the warming doesn’t seem to stop there. Earth is likely to warm by at least 2 degrees Fahrenheit. This is equivalent to an increase in your body temperature of up to 103 degrees.

While not a fatal blow, an increase in temperature will certainly harm your body’s interconnected functions, just as an equivalent temperature rise on Earth would compromise the interconnected functions and ecosystem services provided to humans.

90 percent of excess heat from human-caused climate change is stored in the ocean. Thus, once again in 2021 the planet set a record for Ocean Heat Content. Currently, the equivalent of 4 atomic bombs of the Hiroshima type, excess energy is stored in the oceans per second.

Ocean heat continues to increase.

The ocean’s ability to store heat helps buffer Earth’s air temperature, but heat comes back to haunt us, by disrupting marine ecosystems, such as destroying coral reefs and increasing algae growth.

Excess heat in the system is also accelerating the loss of global glaciers. Since 1950 the glacier has lost about 100 feet of water ice equivalent.

Loss of ice mass is accelerating.

Melting glaciers, combined with expansion due to warmer oceans, are accelerating sea level rise. The speed is almost doubling every decade now. The current rate of sea level rise is 18 inches per century, but as the rate continues to increase, a realistic rise by 2100 is at least another 2 feet, and possibly more.

Sea level rise is accelerating.

In fact, recent reports by NASA and NOAA suggest the mid-way scenario (below) results in approximately 3.8 feet of additional sea level rise in the Tampa Bay Area by 2100.

Because there is a great deal of uncertainty in estimating ice sheet instability, this number could vary significantly by the end of the century.

Florida is at the forefront of climate change-driven sea level rise. Surrounded by water, and close to sea level, the Tampa Bay Area is one of the areas most vulnerable to sea level rise. In fact, the NOAA report projects a sea level rise of 2 feet in St. Petersburg as early as 2060.

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