Current decade to be the hottest ever

James Marshall
December 5, 2019

The past decade is nearly certain to be the hottest on record, weather experts warned on Tuesday, painting a bleak picture of vanishing sea ice, devastating heatwaves and encroaching seas in a report launched at a climate summit in Spain.

"Average temperatures for the five-year, 2015-to-2019 and 10-year, 2010-to-2019 periods are nearly certain to be the highest on record", the WMO said.

According to WMO, concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which had hit a record level of 407.8 parts per million (ppm) in 2018, continued to rise in 2019.

Along with this data, it has been reported that the year 2019 specifically is likely to be the second or third warmest year on record.

As 329 billion tonnes of ice loss from the Greenland ice sheet in a year's time, in October the global mean sea level reached its highest on record.

Cyclones, hurricanes and floods drove more than 7 million people from their homes in the first six months of 2019.

The report has cautioned that global warming trends have actually worsened since the Paris climate pact in 2015 under which countries had pledged to cut or curb Earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions to cap the average temperature rise at 2°C.

The WMO said that weather disasters have displaced millions of people this year and affected rainfall from India to northern Russian Federation, to the central United States and other areas.

The UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a land-use study in August reporting that irrigated cropland uses about 1% of the world's ice-free land area (130 million square kilometers, or more than 50 million square miles), while another 12% of total ice-free land is used for non-irrigated crops.

"If we wanted to reach a 1.5 °C increase we would need to bend emissions and at the moment countries haven't been following on their Paris pledges", WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas told reporters in Madrid, where envoys from nearly 200 countries were attending a two-week United Nations conference on the issue. The UN Climate Change Conference brings together representatives from around the world to seek solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon dioxide lasts for centuries in the atmosphere and the oceans, thus locking in climate change. "The [amount] will be higher if we continue our current behavior", he said.

Part of the discussions in Madrid is aimed at getting countries to increase their climate action ambition ahead of a deadline next year.

Friederike Otto, deputy director of the University of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute, said the WMO report "highlights that we are not even adapted to 1.1 degrees of warming". "And there is no doubt that this 1.1 degree is due to the burning of fossil fuels". Christian Aid's global climate lead Kat Kramer said the WMO report showed the need for concrete progress in Madrid.

Colin Morice, of the Met Office Hadley Centre, said: "Our global temperature figures are in agreement with other centres around the world that 2019 is set to join each of the years from 2015 as the five warmest years on record".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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