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    WMO Says 1.5 °C Rise Above Pre-Industrial Level Temperature Is Round The Corner

    EnvironmentClimate changeWMO Says 1.5 °C Rise Above Pre-Industrial Level Temperature Is...
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    WMO Says 1.5 °C Rise Above Pre-Industrial Level Temperature Is Round The Corner

    The 1.5°C figure is not some random statistic. It is rather an indicator of the point at which climate impacts will become increasingly harmful for people and indeed the entire planet. For as long as we continue to emit greenhouse gases, temperatures will continue to rise.

    There is a 50:50 chance of the annual average global temperature temporarily reaching 1.5 °C above the pre-industrial level for at least one of the next five years – and the likelihood is increasing with time, according to a new climate update issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

    There is a 93 per cent likelihood of at least one year between 2022-2026 becoming the warmest on record and dislodging 2016 from the top ranking. The chance of the five-year average for 2022-2026 being higher than the last five years (2017-2021) is also 93 per cent, according to the Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update, produced by the United Kingdom’s Met Office, the WMO lead centre for such predictions.

    The annual update harnesses the expertise of internationally acclaimed climate scientists and the best prediction systems from leading climate centres around the world to produce actionable information for decision-makers.

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    Paris Agreement goals

    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 per cent chance of exceedance. That probability has increased to nearly 50% for the 2022-2026 period.

    “This study shows – with a high level of scientific skill – that we are getting measurably closer to temporarily reaching the lower target of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The 1.5°C figure is not some random statistic. It is rather an indicator of the point at which climate impacts will become increasingly harmful for people and indeed the entire planet,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.

    “For as long as we continue to emit greenhouse gases, temperatures will continue to rise. And alongside that, our oceans will continue to become warmer and more acidic, sea ice and glaciers will continue to melt, sea level will continue to rise and our weather will become more extreme. Arctic warming is disproportionately high and what happens in the Arctic affects all of us,” said Prof. Taalas.

    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.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says 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.

    An El Niño can fuel temperatures

    Dr Leon Hermanson, of the Met Office led the report. He said: “Our latest climate predictions show that continued global temperature rise will continue, with an even chance that one of the years between 2022 and 2026 will exceed 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. A single year of exceedance above 1.5 °C does not mean we have breached the iconic threshold of the Paris Agreement, but it does reveal that we are edging ever closer to a situation where 1.5 °C could be exceeded for an extended period.”

    In 2021, the global average temperature was 1.1 °C above the pre-industrial baseline, according to the provisional WMO report on the State of the Global Climate. The final State of the Global Climate report for 2021 will be released on 18 May.

    Back-to-back La Niña events at the start and end of 2021 had a cooling effect on global temperatures, but this is only temporary and does not reverse the long-term global warming trend. Any development of an El Niño event would immediately fuel temperatures, as it did in 2016, which is until now the warmest year on record.

    Edging closer

    According to the findings, the annual mean global near-surface temperature for each year between 2022 and 2026 is predicted to be between 1.1 °C and 1.7 °C higher than preindustrial levels (the average over the years 1850-1900).

    The chance of global near-surface temperature exceeding 1.5 °C above preindustrial levels at least one year between 2022 and 2026 is about as likely as not (48 per cent). There is only a small chance (10 per cent) of the five-year mean exceeding this threshold.

    The chance of at least one year between 2022 and 2026 exceeding the warmest year on record, 2016, is 93 per cent. The chance of the five-year mean for 2022-2026 being higher than the last five years (2017-2021) is also 93 per cent.

    The Arctic temperature anomaly, compared to the 1991-2020 average, is predicted to be more than three times as large as the global mean anomaly when averaged over the next five northern hemisphere extended winters.

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