Global temperature likely to exceed 1.5 degrees limits, set to pose risks at health, food security, water management: WMO


New Delhi: Global temperatures are likely to breach the 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature threshold at least” “temporarily” in the next five years, the World Meteorological Organisation according to a new update issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on Wednesday.

The Weather Agency in its new “State of Climate update” said that “there is a 66 percent 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”.

Also, there is a 98% likelihood that at least one of the next five years, and the five-year period as a whole, will be the warmest on record.

Right now, 2016 happens to be the warmest year ever, the annual mean temperature that year being 1.28 degrees Celsius higher than the pre-industrial times (average of the 1850-1900 period). The year 2022 was 1.15 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial average.

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 on a temporary basis with increasing frequency,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.

“A warming El Niño 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.

There is only a 32% chance that the five-year mean will exceed the 1.5°C threshold, according to the Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update produced by the United Kingdom’s Met Office, the WMO lead center for such predictions.

The chance of temporarily exceeding 1.5°C has risen steadily since 2015 when it was close to zero. For the years between 2017 and 2021, there was a 10% chance of exceedance.

“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.

The annual mean global near-surface temperature for each year between 2023 and 2027 is predicted to be between 1.1°C and 1.8°C higher than the 1850-1900 average.

This is used as a baseline because it was before the emission of greenhouse gases from human and industrial activities.

“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,” WMO said.

The WMO assessment said that the five-year period between 2023 and 2027 was almost certain to be warmer than the previous five-year period between 2018 and 2022. The developing El Nino in the equatorial Pacific Ocean is also expected to play a role in this.

Usually, El Nino has the impact of increasing the global temperature in the year after it develops. That means that 2024 could receive additional warming pressure due to El Nino.

The Paris Agreement sets long-term goals to guide all nations to substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase in this century to 2 °C while pursuing efforts to limit the increase even further to 1.5 °C, to avoid or reduce adverse impacts and related losses and damages.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its report said that climate-related risks for natural and human systems are higher for global warming of 1.5 °C than at present but lower than at 2 °C.


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