The last decade of “exceptional” heat worldwide certainly to be the hottest on record, along with the record level of oceans warming, which is growing markedly more acidic, says the World Meteorological Organization.
From 2010 to 2019, global temperatures were about 1.1C above the average from the pre-industrial period and is going close to the 1.5C of warming, which scientists say will result in dramatic impacts, including extreme weather and the loss of vital ecosystems.
The State of the Global Climate, WMO’s annual publication shows in their preliminary findings that since records began, this year is on course to be the second or third warmest.
From January to October, the impacts over the land included heatwaves, severe droughts, and floods across all the continents, and not to mention the heatwaves over the seas. Events like heatwaves and floods that used to be once-in-a-century are becoming more frequent now.
Since the 1950s, the measurements of the upper levels of the oceans during the past years have crossed the previous records so far this year.
The ocean experienced unusually warm temperatures of around 1.5 months while large areas of the north-east Pacific faced severe heatwaves. The Arctic sea ice minimum was the third smallest on record in September. Report’s final version will be published in March.
According to the WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas, the impacts of rising atmospheric carbon concentrations were becoming ever more harmful, as demonstrated in extreme weather events of this year.
“Heatwaves and floods which used to be once-in-a-century events are becoming more regular occurrences. Countries from the Bahamas to Japan to Mozambique suffered devastating tropical cyclones. Wildfires swept through the Arctic and Australia,” he said.
The more erratic rainfall patterns, when combined with an increase in population, posed a threat to crop yields, which would mean “considerable food security challenges for vulnerable countries in the future,” he warned.
The findings came as the world’s rulers gathered for a critical UN conference on the climate in Madrid. On Monday, the UN secretary-general, António Guterres, warned that despite the technology and economical means were available to fight climate chaos, political will was lacking.
He called on global leaders and governments to take notice of young people, who were “showing remarkable leadership and mobilisation.”
Keith Shine, regius professor of meteorology and climate science at the University of Reading, warned that the latest WMO figures showed the warming pattern was growing stronger.
“Each of the past four decades has been 0.1 to 0.2C warmer than the decade before. Carbon dioxide levels have continued their relentless rise, and methane levels have grown much more rapidly than in the previous decade. Unless things start to change markedly, it is going to get harder and harder to meet the goals of the Paris agreement.”
Although the average temperatures over the decades may seem to be increasing only very slowly, this disguises the real impact on lives, explained Grant Allen, the professor of atmospheric physics at the University of Manchester.
“This [temperature rise] does not simply mean slightly warmer summers, it means an increased frequency of extreme weather globally – droughts, heatwaves, flooding and changing patterns in the frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones.
“These impacts are real and happening now and place huge pressures on communities and countries – put simply, these impacts make for a more unstable world, and are already having profound impacts on our ecosystems and biodiversity.”