World on brink of new temperature records, warns WMO

Geneva: The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has issued a stark warning that the world is on the cusp of setting new temperature records. According to their latest statement, there is a significant likelihood that one of the years between now and 2028 will break past the critical 1.5°C temperature threshold.

The WMO’s recent projections indicate an 80% chance that the annual average global temperature will temporarily exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels for at least one of the next five years. This alarming prediction underscores the growing frequency of extreme temperature events.

Ko Barrett, Deputy Secretary-General of the WMO, highlighted that temporary breaches of the 1.5°C limit have already occurred in individual months and over the most recent 12-month period. However, she clarified that these short-term violations do not necessarily mean the 1.5°C goal set by the Paris Agreement is permanently unattainable. The agreement aims for long-term temperature stabilization over decades.

From 2024 to 2028, the global mean near-surface temperature is expected to be between 1.1 and 1.9 degrees Celsius higher compared to the baseline temperature of 1850-1900. The WMO’s Global Annual to Decadal Update also states a 47% chance that the average global temperature for the entire five-year period will exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, an increase from the 32% probability reported for 2023-2027.

Since 2015, the likelihood of such temperature spikes has been rising. Initially close to zero, the probability grew to 20% for the period 2017-2021, and to 66% for 2023-2027. The current 80% probability reflects a continued upward trend.

“The bleak reality that we are way off track to meet the goals set in the Paris Agreement,” Barrett stated. She emphasized the severe economic, environmental, and human costs of failing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Without further action, trillions of dollars in economic expenses, millions of lives affected by extreme weather, and extensive damage to ecosystems and biodiversity are anticipated.

Under the Paris Agreement, countries committed to keeping the long-term average surface temperature well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to strive to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Scientific evidence repeatedly warns that exceeding the 1.5-degree threshold could trigger even more severe climate change impacts and extreme weather events.

Devastating Effects Already Visible

Even at current levels of global warming, the planet is experiencing devastating climate impacts, including more frequent heatwaves, extreme rainfall events, and droughts; diminishing ice sheets, sea ice, and glaciers; accelerating sea level rise; and increased ocean heating.

The WMO’s research predicts that Arctic warming over the next five extended winters (November to March) will be more than three times the global mean temperature increase compared to the average from 1991 to 2020. Additionally, the concentration of sea ice in the Barents Sea, the Bering Sea, and the Sea of Okhotsk is expected to decrease further from March 2024 to 2028.

The urgent call to action is clear: nations must take more robust steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impending climate crisis.

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