Average global temperature could rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius in next 5 years: WMO
This year, large land areas in the northern hemisphere are likely to be over 0.8 degrees Celsius warmer than the average temperature in the 29-year period between 1981 and 2010.Updated: Jul 09, 2020 20:30 IST
At least one or more months during the next five years will be 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial levels, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has warned on Thursday.
A 1.5 degrees Celsius rise in average temperature over pre-industrial times is the threshold beyond which many regions, including India, will record extreme temperatures; increases in frequency, intensity, and/or amount of heavy rainfall and an increase in intensity or frequency of droughts in some regions, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had flagged last year in its special report titled, “Global Warming of 1.5 Degrees”.
WMO in its Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update for 2020-24, released on Thursday in Geneva, Switzerland, said the annual global temperature is likely to be at least 1 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial levels (defined as the 1850-1900 average) in each of the coming five years and is very likely to be within the range of 0.91 – 1.59 degrees Celsius.
This year, large land areas in the northern hemisphere are likely to be over 0.8 degrees Celsius warmer than the average temperature in the 29-year period between 1981 and 2010.
This year, the Arctic is also likely to have warmed by more than twice as much as the global mean, the report said.
The Copernicus Climate Change Service reported an exceptionally warm spring in western Siberia, with higher-than-average surface air temperatures throughout May and June and up to 10 degrees Celsius higher than normal in May. The average monthly temperature over the entire area was more than 5 degrees Celsius higher than normal, which breaks the record for the previous two warmest Junes – 2018 and 2019 – by more than one degree Celsius. The maximum temperature in the Arctic was recorded on June 20 at 37 degrees Celsius.
The smallest temperature change is expected in the tropics and in the mid-latitudes of the southern hemisphere.
“The WMO annual report indicates that we might be hitting the 1.5 degrees Celsius mark in some of the months in the next five years. The report suggests that the smallest temperature change is expected in the tropics and in the mid-latitudes. This should not mislead us,” said Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune.
“Considering that the mean temperatures over the tropics are high, even a small increase in temperature can result in major impacts. For example, the recent climate change assessment report for India shows an observed change of 0.7 degrees Celsius in average temperatures over India. As a response to the local and global temperature rise, we already see a spike in extreme weather events over the region. Rainfall patterns have changed, with longer dry spells intermittent with heavy rainfall events. The frequency of very severe cyclones has increased over the Arabian Sea. Over the Himalayas, the glacier retreat is going at a fast pace. Glacier melt and ocean warming are raising the sea level across the Indian Ocean,” he added.
This year many parts of South America, southern Africa, and Australia are likely to be drier than the recent past. Over the 2020-24 period, sea-level pressure (atmospheric pressure at mean sea level) anomalies suggest that the northern North Atlantic region could have stronger westerly winds leading to more storms in western Europe.
For India, the consequences of failing to keep warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius would include severe heat-stress in megacities along with high air pollution levels; sea-level rise induced saltwater intrusion in coastal areas and increased vulnerability to disasters in high mountain eco-systems, IPCC scientists had projected last year.
Regions at disproportionately higher risk of severe climate impacts from a 1.5 degrees Celsius include Arctic ecosystems, dryland regions, small island developing states, and least developed countries, according to IPCC.
“This study shows – with a high level of scientific skill – the enormous challenge ahead in meeting the Paris Agreement on Climate Change target of keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” said Petteri Taalas, secretary-general, WMO.
“While coronavirus disease (Covid-19) has caused a severe international health and economic crisis, failure to tackle climate change may threaten human well-being, ecosystems, and economies for centuries, governments should use the opportunity to embrace climate action as part of recovery programmes and ensure that we grow back better,” he added.
The Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update is led by the United Kingdom’s Met Office, which uses computer models from leading climate centres around the world to make projections annually for policymakers.