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Global temperatures set to reach new records in next five years
by World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
6:21am 18th May, 2023
17 May 2023
Global temperatures set to reach new records in next five years. (WMO)
Global temperatures are likely to surge to record levels in the next five years, fuelled by heat-trapping greenhouse gases and a naturally occurring El Nino event, according to a new update issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
There is a 66% likelihood that the annual average near-surface global temperature between 2023 and 2027 will be more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels for at least one year.
There is a 98% chance of at least one in the next five years beating the temperature record set in 2016, when there was an exceptionally strong El Nino. The chance of the five-year mean for 2023-2027 being higher than the last five years is also 98%.
“This report does not mean that we will permanently exceed the 1.5°C level specified in the Paris Agreement which refers to long-term warming over many years. However, WMO is sounding the alarm that we will breach the 1.5°C level with increasing frequency,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.
“A warming El Nino is expected to develop in the coming months and this will combine with human-induced climate change to push global temperatures into uncharted territory,” he said.
“This will have far-reaching repercussions for health, food security, water management and the environment. We need to be prepared,” said Prof. Taalas.
“Global mean temperatures are predicted to continue increasing, moving us away further and further away from the climate we are used to,” said Dr Leon Hermanson a Met Office expert scientist who led the report.
In addition to increasing global temperatures, human-induced greenhouse gases are leading to more ocean heating and acidification, sea ice and glacier melt, sea level rise and more extreme weather.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that climate-related risks for natural and human systems are higher for global warming of 1.5°C than at present.
Apr. 2023
State of the Global Climate report. (WMO)
From mountain peaks to ocean depths, climate change continued its advance in 2022, according to the annual report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
Droughts, floods and heatwaves affected communities on every continent and cost many billions of dollars. Antarctic sea ice fell to its lowest extent on record and the melting of some European glaciers was, literally, off the charts.
The State of the Global Climate 2022 shows the planetary scale changes on land, in the ocean and in the atmosphere caused by record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
For global temperature, the years 2015-2022 were the eight warmest on record despite the cooling impact of a La Nina event for the past three years. Melting of glaciers and sea level rise - which again reached record levels in 2022 - will continue to up to thousands of yea
“While greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and the climate continues to change, populations worldwide continue to be gravely impacted by extreme weather and climate events. For example, in 2022, continuous drought in East Africa, record breaking rainfall in Pakistan and record-breaking heatwaves in China and Europe affected tens of millions, drove food insecurity, boosted mass migration, and cost billions of dollars in loss and damage,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.
Throughout the year, hazardous climate and weather-related events drove new population displacement and worsened conditions for many of the 95 million people already living in displacement at the beginning of the year, according to the report.
The report also puts a spotlight on ecosystems and the environment and shows how climate change is affecting recurring events in nature, such as when trees blossom, or birds migrate.
The WMO State of the Global Climate report was released ahead of Earth Day 2023. Its key findings echo the message of UN Secretary-General António Guterres for Earth Day.
Mr. Guterres warned that “biodiversity is collapsing as one million species teeter on the brink of extinction”, and called on the world to end its “relentless and senseless wars on nature”.
“We have the tools, the knowledge, and the solutions. We need accelerated climate action with deeper, faster emissions cuts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius. We also need massively scaled-up investments in adaptation and resilience, particularly for the most vulnerable countries and communities who have done the least to cause the crisis,” said Mr Guterres.
The years 2015 to 2022 were the eight warmest years on record. Concentrations of the three main greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide – reached record highs in 2021. Real-time data from specific locations show levels of the three greenhouse gases continued to increase in 2022. The annual increase in methane concentration from 2020 to 2021 was the highest on record.
The European Alps smashed records for glacier melt. Measurements on glaciers in High Mountain Asia, western North America, South America and parts of the Arctic all reveal substantial glacier mass losses. Sea ice in Antarctica dropped to 1.92 million km2 on February 25, 2022, the lowest level on record.
Ocean heat content reached a new observed record high in 2022. Global mean sea level (GMSL) continued to rise in 2022, reaching a new record high.
Ocean acidification: CO2 reacts with seawater resulting in a decrease of pH referred to as ‘ocean acidification’. Ocean acidification threatens organisms and ecosystem services. “There is very high confidence that open ocean surface pH is now the lowest it has been for at least 26 thousand years and current rates of pH change are unprecedented since at least that time.
Drought gripped East Africa. Rainfall has been below-average in five consecutive wet seasons, the longest such sequence in 40 years. As of January 2023, it was estimated that over 20 million people faced acute food insecurity across the region, under the effects of the drought and other shocks.
Record breaking rain in July and August led to extensive flooding in Pakistan. There were over 1 700 deaths, and 33 million people were affected, while almost 8 million people were displaced. Total damage and economic losses were assessed at US$ 30 billion.
July (181% above normal) and August (243% above normal) were each the wettest on record nationally.
Record breaking heatwaves affected Europe during the summer. In some areas, extreme heat was coupled with exceptionally dry conditions. Excess deaths associated with the heat in Europe exceeded 15,000 in total across Spain, Germany, the UK, France, and Portugal.
China had its most extensive and long-lasting heatwave since national records began, extending from mid-June to the end of August and resulting in the hottest summer on record.
As of 2021, 2.3 billion people faced food insecurity, of which 924 million people faced severe food insecurity.
Heatwaves in the 2022 pre-monsoon season in India and Pakistan caused a decline in crop yields. This, combined with the banning of wheat exports and restrictions on rice exports in India after the start of the conflict in Ukraine, threatened the availability, access, and stability of staple foods within international food markets and posed high risks to countries already affected by shortages of staple foods.
In Somalia, almost 1.2 million people became internally displaced by the catastrophic impacts of drought on pastoral and farming livelihoods and hunger during the year. A further 512,000 internal displacements associated with drought were recorded in Ethiopia.
The flooding in Pakistan affected some 33 million people, including about 800,000 Afghan refugees hosted in affected districts. By October, around 8 million people have been internally displaced by the floods with some 585,000 sheltering in relief sites.
Environmental impacts of climate change are another focus of the report, which highlights a shift in recurring events in nature, “such as when trees blossom, or birds migrate”.
As a result of such shifts, entire ecosystems can be upended. WMO notes that spring arrival times of over a hundred European migratory bird species over five decades “show increasing levels of mismatch to other spring events”, such as the moment when trees produce leaves and insects take flight, which are important for bird survival.
The report says these mismatches “are likely to have contributed to population decline in some migrant species, particularly those wintering in sub-Saharan Africa”, and to the ongoing destruction of biodiversity.

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