Nov 01, 2021 News
– Latest Global Climate Report reveals
By Kiana Wilburg
Kaieteur News – The latest report of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has revealed that significant amounts of greenhouse gas concentrations and associated accumulated heat have propelled the planet into uncharted territory. In fact, the report notes that 2015 to 2021 are poised to be the warmest years on record.
The WMO State of the Global Climate 2021 report says urgent action is needed if the future of current and future generations is to be saved. The report which was perused by Kaieteur News combines input from multiple United Nations agencies, national meteorological and hydrological services and scientific experts. It highlights impacts on food security and population displacement, harming crucial ecosystems and undermining progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
Since reviewing the report, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has said the document draws from the latest scientific evidence to show how the planet is changing before the eyes of all and sundry. “From the ocean depths to mountain tops, from melting glaciers to relentless extreme weather events, ecosystems and communities around the globe are being devastated. COP26 (The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26 being held in Scotland) must be a turning point for people and the planet,” said the UN Secretary-General.
In a video statement, he added, “Scientists are clear on the facts. Now leaders need to be just as clear in their actions. The door is open; the solutions are there. COP26 must be a turning point. We must act now – with ambition and solidarity – to safeguard our future and save humanity.”
WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas also commented on the danger that lies ahead for humanity. The WMO Head said, “At the current rate of increase in greenhouse gas concentrations, we will see a temperature increase by the end of this century far in excess of the Paris Agreement targets of 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.”
On this note, Professor Taalas said, “COP26 is a make-or-break opportunity to put us back on track.”
The provisional State of the Climate 2021 report was released at the start of the UN Climate Change negotiations, COP26, in Glasgow. It provides a snapshot of climate indicators such as greenhouse gas concentrations, temperatures, extreme weather, sea levels, ocean warming and ocean acidification, glacier retreat and ice melt, as well as socio-economic impacts.
It is one of the flagship scientific reports which will inform negotiations and which will be showcased at the Science pavilion hosted by WMO, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the UK Met Office. During COP26, WMO will launch the Water and Climate Coalition to coordinate water and climate action, and the Systematic Observations Financing Facility to improve weather and climate observations and forecasts which are vital to climate change adaptation.
KEY MESSAGES FROM THE REPORT
· In 2020, greenhouse gas concentrations reached new highs. Levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) were 413.2 parts per million (ppm), methane (CH4) at 1889 parts per billion (ppb)) and nitrous oxide (N2O) at 333.2 ppb, respectively, 149%, 262% and 123% of pre-industrial (1750) levels. The increase has continued in 2021.
· The global mean temperature for 2021 (based on data from January to September) was about 1.09°C above the 1850-1900 average. Currently, the six datasets used by WMO in the analysis place 2021 as the sixth or seventh warmest year on record globally. But the ranking may change at the end of the year. It is nevertheless likely that 2021 will be between the 5th and 7th warmest year on record and that 2015 to 2021 will be the seven warmest years on record.
· As the 2020-21 La Niña has waned, monthly global temperatures have increased. The year 2016, which started during a strong El Niño, remains the warmest year on record in most of the data sets surveyed.
· Much of the ocean experienced at least one ‘strong’ Marine Heat-wave at some point in 2021 – with the exception of the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean (due to La Niña) and much of the Southern Ocean. The Laptev and Beaufort Sea in the Arctic experienced “severe” and “extreme” marine heat-waves from January to April 2021.
· The ocean absorbs around 23% of the annual emissions of anthropogenic CO2 to the atmosphere and so is becoming more acidic. Open ocean surface pH has declined globally over the last 40 years and is now the lowest it has been for at least 26,000 years. Current rates of pH change are unprecedented since at least that time. As the pH of the ocean decreases, its capacity to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere also declines.
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