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WMO report labels past four years as warmest on record

The World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) provisional statement on the State of the Climate has labelled 2018 as the fourth highest average global temperature on record, with the 20 warmest years coming in the past 22 years, and top four in the past four years.

The report is based on contributions from a wide range of United Nations partners who found the global average temperature for the first ten months of the year to be nearly 1°C above the pre-industrial baseline (1850-1900). This was based on five independently maintained global temperature data sets.

Other tell-tale signs of climate change include rising sea levels, ocean heat and acidification, sea-ice and glacier melt, and extreme weather events on all continents.

Petteri Taalas, WMO secretary-general, said, “We are not on track to meet climate change targets and rein in temperature increases. Greenhouse gas concentrations are once again at record levels and if the current trend continues, we may see temperature increases 3-5°C by the end of the century. If we exploit all known fossil fuel resources, the temperature rise will be considerably higher.

“We are the first generation to fully understand climate change and the last generation to be able to do something about it,” he said.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on Global Warming of 1.5°C reported that the average global temperature for the decade 2006-2015 was 0.86°C above the pre-industrial baseline. The average increase above the same baseline for the most recent decade 2009-2018 was about 0.93°C and for the past five years, 2014-2018, was 1.04°C above the pre-industrial baseline.

Elena Manaenkova, WMO deputy secretary-general, said, “Every fraction of a degree of warming makes a difference to human health and access to food and fresh water, to the extinction of animals and plants, to the survival of coral reefs and marine life. It makes a difference to economic productivity, food security, and to the resilience of our infrastructure and cities. It makes a difference to the speed of glacier melt and water supplies, and the future of low-lying islands and coastal communities. Every extra bit matters.”

A report by the UK’s Met Office has warned that summer temperatures could be up to 5.4°C hotter and summer rainfall could decrease by up to 47% by 2070. It also claimed that sea levels in London could rise by 1.15m by 2100.

Elsewhere, a report by MeteoSwiss claims that Switzerland will become hotter but will struggle with heavier rainfall in future. Its famed ski resorts will also have less snow.

“The WMO community is enhancing the translation of science into services,” said WMO chief scientist and research director Pavel Kabat. “This will support countries in generating national climate scenarios and predictions and developing tailored climate services to reduce risks associated with climate change and increasingly extreme weather. WMO is also working to develop integrated tools to monitor and manage greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sinks.”

To read more on the WMO’s provisional statement on the State of the Climate 2018, click here. - December 2018

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