The Past Four Years Were the Warmest on Record

The twenty-fifth edition of the WMO's annual climate report warns that climate change is set to continue and the Earth is running out of time to meet goals set in the Paris Climate Accords.

Apr. 15, 2019
By Isabel Putinja

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The World Mete­o­ro­log­i­cal Orga­ni­za­tion’s (WMO) lat­est report reveals that the impacts of cli­mate change are accel­er­at­ing.

In the report, pub­lished on March 28, the WMO’s warns that the phys­i­cal signs and socio-eco­nomic impacts of cli­mate change are accel­er­at­ing” and that record green­house gas lev­els are caus­ing global tem­per­a­tures to shoot up to alarm­ing lev­els.

(The) global tem­per­a­ture has risen to close to 1 degree Cel­sius above the pre-indus­trial period. The time remain­ing to achieve com­mit­ments under the Paris agree­ment is quickly run­ning out.- Pet­teri Taalas, the WMO sec­re­tary gen­eral

Fig­ures in the twenty-fifth edi­tion of the annual cli­mate report illus­trate that in the past four years, the globe has expe­ri­enced the warmest tem­per­a­tures on record, high ocean tem­per­a­tures and a record rise in sea lev­els. It also warns that the global warm­ing trend is set to con­tinue.

The data released in this report give cause for great con­cern,” United Nations Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral António Guter­res wrote. The past four years were the warmest on record.”

See more: Cli­mate Change News

Some of the key facts out­lined in the report include:

  • 2015 to 2018 were the four warmest years on record with 2016 and 2017 the warmest of the four.
  • The aver­age world tem­per­a­ture is 1.8 degrees Fahren­heit (1 degree Cel­sius) above pre-indus­trial lev­els.
  • Ocean tem­per­a­tures have reached record lev­els.
  • Sea lev­els con­tinue to rise and the Arc­tic and Antarc­tic ice caps are melt­ing.
  • Car­bon diox­ide lev­els also con­tinue to rise.
  • There was an above aver­age num­ber of trop­i­cal storms in 2018.
  • In the past year, extreme weather events impacted 62 mil­lion peo­ple world­wide. Some of these included Hur­ri­cane Flo­rence and Hur­ri­cane Michael in the United States; Super Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philip­pines; heat waves and wild­fires in the U.S., Europe and Japan; and heavy rain­fall and flood­ing in the South Indian state of Ker­ala.

In the fore­word to the report, Pet­teri Taalas, the WMO’s sec­re­tary gen­eral warns that “[the] global tem­per­a­ture has risen to close to 1 degree Cel­sius above the pre-indus­trial period. The time remain­ing to achieve com­mit­ments under the Paris agree­ment is quickly run­ning out.”

The report also cau­tions that these extreme cli­matic pat­terns have a neg­a­tive effect on agri­cul­ture and pose a real threat to food secu­rity. Fol­low­ing gains made in end­ing hunger and revers­ing mal­nu­tri­tion, the num­ber of under­nour­ished peo­ple increased in 2017 to 821 mil­lion due to drought sit­u­a­tions brought on by the El Niño phe­nom­e­non in 2015 and 2016, and extreme weather events.

It also points out that peo­ple depen­dent on agri­cul­ture as a liveli­hood and those liv­ing in coun­tries prone to drought and tem­per­a­ture vari­abil­ity are espe­cially vul­ner­a­ble.

A cold out­break in the win­ter of 2018 in Europe caused abnor­mal snow­falls in the south­ern Mediter­ranean region, and specif­i­cally in the south of France and south­ern Italy. The same region expe­ri­enced heavy rain­fall, high winds and flood­ing in late Octo­ber brought by an intense low-pres­sure sys­tem in the Mediter­ranean Sea, with Italy suf­fer­ing the worst dam­age.

Extreme weather pat­terns in 2018 have been blamed for the poor har­vest expe­ri­enced by Greek pro­duc­ers, a record-low olive oil yield in Italy and a dis­mal har­vest in Cal­i­for­nia.

In a recent sur­vey of farm­ers con­ducted by Olive Oil Times, there was a con­sen­sus that the mount­ing cli­matic extremes would call for vig­i­lance.

These data con­firm the urgency of cli­mate action,” Guter­res said. There is no longer any time for delay.”

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