The past eight years have been the hottest on record, aided by concentrations of greenhouse gases, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned as it kicked off the annual climate summit in a southern Egyptian coastal city.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres described the WMO report as a “chronicle of climate chaos,” which “is unfolding with catastrophic speed, devastating lives and livelihoods on every continent.”
“Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere are so high that we will barely be able to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the least ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement,” Guterres said.
The 2015 Paris Agreement, which will again be evaluated at the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) on Climate Change, commits the vast majority of countries to limit the emission of greenhouse gases, so that by the year By 2050 global temperature will not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels (1850-1900).
There is already irreversible damage, and Guterres mentioned for example that “it is already too late for many glaciers, and the melting will continue for hundreds or even thousands of years, and this will have serious consequences for water security.”
Temperature: The global mean temperature in 2022 is estimated to be about 1.15 [1.02 to 1.28] °C above the 1850-1900 average. 2015 to 2022 are likely to be the eight warmest years on record.
Glaciers and ice: In the European Alps, records were broken for glacier melting in 2022. Average thickness losses of between 3 and more than 4 meters. In Switzerland, 6% of the glacier ice volume was lost between 2021 and 2022, according to initial measurements.
Global Mean Sea Level: The sea level has risen by approximately 3.4 ± 0.3 mm per year during the 30 years (1993-2022) of the satellite altimeter record.
Ocean Heat: The ocean stores about 90% of the accumulated heat from human emissions of greenhouse gases. Overall, 55% of the ocean surface experienced at least one marine heat wave in 2022.
Extreme weather: In East Africa, rainfall has been below average for four consecutive wet seasons, the longest in 40 years, with signs the current season could also be dry. Record rains in July and August caused extensive flooding in Pakistan. There were at least 1,700 dead and 33 million were affected and 9 million people were displaced. The flooding came on the heels of an extreme heat wave in March and April in both India and Pakistan.
Alarming climatic events
The preliminary version of the “State of the global climate in 2022”, presented by the WMO, includes an inventory of alarming climatic events, such as the accelerated rise in sea level, the historic level of melting of European glaciers and the devastation caused by extreme weather events.
For example, the rate at which sea level rise has doubled since 1993 to reach a record high this year – almost two millimetres since January 2020 – along with the first signs of unprecedented melting in the European Alps.
As for the Greenland ice sheet, it lost mass for the 26th consecutive year, and for the first time in the month of September, rains were recorded instead of snowfalls.
The global average temperature in 2022 is estimated to be about 1.15 degrees Celsius higher than the pre-industrial average.
Due to cooling caused by an infrequent triple La Niña – cold winds over the Pacific Ocean – 2022 is likely to be “only” the fifth or sixth warmest year on record.
However, that does not reverse the long-term trend and it is only a matter of time until the record for the warmest year ever recorded is broken, stressed the study, which will be published in full next year but a preliminary version was delivered to COP27, which takes place in this tourist city on the shores of the Red Sea.
The report also highlights that there are record levels of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide, the three main greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, in the atmosphere.
Effects of droughts and torrential rains are detailed: Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are experiencing crop failure and food insecurity due to another below-average rainy season and a prolonged drought.
Floods in Pakistan
In contrast, more than a third of Pakistan – a country of 882,000 square kilometres – was flooded in July and August, as a result of unprecedented rains, which displaced almost eight million people from their homes.
Earlier in the year, the southern African region was hit by a two-month succession of cyclones, particularly affecting Madagascar with torrential rains and devastating floods, and in September, Hurricane Ian caused extensive damage and loss of life in Cuba and Southwest Florida.
Many parts of Europe suffered continuous periods of extreme heat: the United Kingdom registered a record on July 19, when the temperature exceeded 40 degrees Celsius for the first time, all accompanied by drought and forest fires.
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