The past eight years are on track to be the eight warmest on record, according to the WMO’s provisional State of the Global Climate in 2022 report, which has been released as climate discussions get underway at COP27 in Egypt.
According to the findings, the rate of sea level rise has doubled since 1993. It has risen by nearly 10mm since January 2020 to reach a new record high this year. The past two and a half years alone account for 10% of the overall rise in sea level since satellite measurements started nearly 30 years ago.
This year took an exceptionally heavy toll on glaciers in the European Alps, with initial indications of a record-shattering melt. The Greenland ice sheet lost mass for the 26th consecutive year and it rained (rather than snowed) there for the first time in September 2022.
The global mean temperature in 2022 is currently estimated to be about 1.15°C (1.02 to 1.28) above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average. A rare triple-dip cooling La Niña means that 2022 is likely to “only” be the fifth or sixth warmest. The report warns, however, that this does not reverse the long-term trend, as it is only a matter of time until there is another warmest year on record.
The 10-year average for the period 2013-2022 is estimated to be 1.14°C (1.02 to 1.27) above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial baseline. This compares with 1.09°C from 2011 to 2020, as estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment report.
Ocean heat was at record levels in 2021 (the latest year assessed), with the warming rate particularly high in the past 20 years.
Prof Petteri Taalas, WMO secretary-general, said, “The greater the warming, the worse the impacts. We have such high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now that the lower 1.5°C of the Paris Agreement is barely within reach.
“It’s already too late for many glaciers and the melting will continue for hundreds if not thousands of years, with major implications for water security. The rate of sea level rise has doubled in the past 30 years. Although we still measure this in terms of millimeters per year, it adds up to half to one meter per century and that is a long-term and major threat to many millions of coastal dwellers and low-lying states.
“All too often, those least responsible for climate change suffer most – as we have seen with the terrible flooding in Pakistan and deadly, long-running drought in the Horn of Africa. But even well-prepared societies this year have been ravaged by extremes – as seen by the protracted heatwaves and drought in large parts of Europe and southern China.
“Increasingly extreme weather makes it more important than ever to ensure that everyone on Earth has access to life-saving early warnings,” he said.
Antonio Guterres, UN secretary-general, is set to unveil an Action Plan at COP27 to achieve ‘Early Warnings for All’ in the next five years. Half the countries in the world currently lack these. Guterres has asked WMO to spearhead the initiative.
The WMO State of the Global Climate report is produced annually, with the temperature figures used in the provisional 2022 report running until the end of September. The final version will be issued next April.
To read more from the provisional report and its findings, click here.