WMO: After the disasters of 2022, we must act for the climate

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has released a new report on the impact of weather-related disasters.

It shows that these water- and climate-related phenomena, such as extreme floods, heat and drought, have affected millions of people and cost billions this year, as the signals and impact of climate change human-induced climate have intensified.

The WMO thus recalls that the events of 2022 have once again underlined the clear need to do much more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve their monitoring and strengthen adaptation to climate change, in particular through universal access to early warnings.

Even before the publication of the global temperature figures for 2022 expected in mid-January, it already appears that the last eight years will prove to be the hottest on record, notes the organization.

The persistence of a cooling event caused by La Niña, now in its third year, means that 2022 will not be the hottest year on record. But this cooling will be short-lived and will not reverse the long-term warming trend caused by record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.

The WMO says that according to the annual global temperature forecast from the UK Met Office, the average global temperature for 2023 will be between 1.08°C and 1.32°C (with a central estimate of 1.20°C). C) above the average of the pre-industrial period (1850-1900). For the tenth consecutive year, temperatures will be at least 1°C above pre-industrial levels and the likelihood of a temporary exceedance of the 1.5°C limit set by the Paris Agreement is steadily increasing.

Urgently improve preparedness for extreme events

The WMO Secretary-General, Petteri Taalas, notes in this regard that “This year we have faced several dramatic weather disasters that have claimed far too many lives and livelihoods and compromised health, food, energy and water and infrastructure security.”

“A third of Pakistan has been flooded, causing significant economic and human losses. Record heat waves were seen in China, Europe, North and South America. The long-lasting drought in the Horn of Africa threatens to become a humanitarian disaster,” he listed.

He also underlined the need to improve preparedness for such extreme events and to ensure that the goal of the UN Action Plan “Early Warnings for All” is achieved over the next five years. Early warnings, increased investment in the global basic observing system and building resilience to extreme weather and climate events will be among WMO’s priorities in 2023, when the global WMO will celebrate its 150th anniversary.

The organization will also promote a new method of monitoring sinks and sources of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide using the ground-based Earth Atmosphere Watch program and satellite modeling to better understand the behavior of the main greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Climate indicators pointing to record highs

Greenhouse gases are just one of the climate indicators that are now reaching record levels, alongside sea level, ocean heat content and acidification. The rate of sea level rise has doubled since 1993, and increased by almost 10 mm since January 2020 to reach a new record this year.

The past two and a half years alone have contributed 10 percent of global sea level rise since satellite measurements began nearly 30 years ago, according to the WMO’s interim report on the state of the global climate in 2022.

The year 2022 has also had an exceptionally heavy impact on glaciers in the European Alps, with the first signs of unprecedented melting, according to the WMO. The Greenland Ice Sheet has seen its mass shrink for the 26th consecutive year, and it rained (rather than snowed) on the summit for the first time in September.

The Arctic is warming faster than any other region in the world

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States, points out in this sense that “when we think of the Arctic, we don’t usually consider typhoons, smoke from wildfires and increased rainfall”.

The agency provides a detailed picture of how warming is reshaping this once frozen and snowy region, whose temperatures it says are rising faster than any other part of the world.

Although 2022 did not break any global temperature records, unprecedented levels were observed in many parts of the world.

Effects felt from Europe to Chile

India and Pakistan experienced record high temperatures in March and April. China has experienced the most widespread and longest-lasting heat wave since national data collection began, and the second driest summer on record.

Large parts of the Northern Hemisphere were unusually hot and dry like Europe, which was exposed to repeated bouts of extreme heat. The United Kingdom thus recorded a new national record on July 19, when the temperature exceeded 40°C for the first time. These phenomena were accompanied by drought and persistent and damaging forest fires.

In East Africa, rainfall has been below average for four consecutive wet seasons, the longest episode in 40 years, triggering a major humanitarian crisis that has affected millions, devastated agriculture and decimated livestock , particularly in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

Record rains in July and August caused major flooding in Pakistan. At least 1,700 dead and 33 million people have been affected and 7.9 million people have been displaced. These floods followed an extreme heat wave in March and April in India and Pakistan.

A large area centered around north-central Argentina, as well as southern Bolivia, central Chile and most of Paraguay and Uruguay, experienced record high temperatures in two heat waves consecutive end of November and beginning of December 2022.

A study by internationally renowned scientists from the World Weather Attribution network has concluded that climate change increases the likelihood of record-breaking heat levels in early summer in the Southern Hemisphere by a factor of 60.

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