Meteorologists have reported that four key indicators of climate change – greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, heat content and ocean acidification – reached record highs on record in 2021. About what this can lead to – in the material of RIA Novosti.
The World Meteorol-ogical Organization (WM-O) has published its annual report on the state of the global climate. This time he has a special status. It complements the Sixth Assess-ment Report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Cli-mate Change (IPCC) relea-sed in April, the main international climate document.
Both of them will serve as the basis for the agenda of the UN climate summit COP27, which will be held in Egypt at the end of the year. The WMO report will also be discussed at the International Economic Forum in Davos on May 22-26, where one of the main topics is the mobilization of the efforts of the public and private sectors to achieve global climate goals in the period from 2030 to 2050. The deterioration of most indicators is regarded by WMO experts as “a clear sign that human activity is causing changes on a planetary scale on land, in the ocean and in the atmosphere, with long-term harmful consequences for the sustainable development of ecosystems.”
Since the 1980s, the lev-el of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has steadily increased. According to the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, CO 2 in the air in April 2020 was on average 416.45, in April 2021 – 419.05, in April 2022 – already 420.23 ppm (parts per million ).
“This is happening right before our eyes,” says Th-omas Mortlock, professor emeritus at Macquarie Uni-versity in Sydney, Austr-alia. “Judging by the ice cores of Antarctica, the natural figure should be in the range from 150 to 300 ppm. We have about 40 percent more. And all this in some 150 years. It is obvious that the warming is caused by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. If we want to avoid the worst consequences, we must, in accordance with the Paris Agreement, limit it to one and a half degrees.”
About 23 percent of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions are absorbed by the ocean. Carbon dioxide reacts with water and acidification occurs, threatening marine life. In addition, as acidity increases, the ocean’s ability to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere decreases. A positive feedback loop occurs.
“The current rate of acidification is unprecedented, and surface water pH is the lowest in 26,000 years,” the report says. Another factor is the accumulation of thermal energy by the ocean. All observing systems point to a strong warming of water over the past two decades to a depth of up to two thousand meters. As a result, the most powerful cyclones occur more often, from which not only coastal tropical regions suffer, but also the middle lane.
Since 2013, due to the m-elting of glaciers, the level of the World Ocean has risen by 4.5 millimeters per year. This is twice as much as from 1993 to 2002. On average, glaciers have lost 33.5 meters of thickness since 1950, with 76 percent of that since 1980 due to abnormally high summer temperatures in Greenland.
Deceleration of temperature rise
The past seven years have been the warmest on record. The global temperature is now 1.11 degrees above pre-industrial levels (period 1850-1900). In 2020 it was 1.2. Specialists attribute a slight decrease to the cold phase of the La Niña Southern Oscillation – fluctuations in the temperature of the surface layer of water in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, which significantly affect the climate.
“Soon we will see another warmest year. It is only a matter of time,” WMO Secretary General Professor Petteri Taalas said in a press release. “The climate is changing. The heat captured by anthropogenic greenhouse gases will continue to warm the planet for many generations to come. seas, heat, and ocean acidification will not stop for hundreds of years unless a means of removing carbon from the atmosphere is invented.”
Separately, the authors of the report focused on extre-me weather events, which in 2021 caused hundreds of billions of dollars in damage, caused food and water security crises and large-scale displacement of people. The extreme drought affected countries in South America, Canada, the western United States, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey. Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia have not had normal rain for four years. This is the longest drought in East Africa in 40 years. Temperature records were recorded in many places last summer: 54.4 degrees in California’s Death Valley, 49.6 in the Canadian province of British Columbia, 48.8 in Sicily.
Western Europe was hit by one of the worst floods in history in mid-July. Th-ere were numerous human casualties, and the economic losses of Germany alone exceeded $20 billion. About the same was the flood in the Chinese province of Henan. Hurricane Ida, which swept across the southeastern United States in August-September, caused $75 billion in damage. 115 people died.
The main conclusion of the report is that there are more and more extreme weather events every year. And their social consequences are getting worse – hunger, worsening living conditions, internal migration. For example, due to the current heat wave in India, the wheat harvest and its exports have already decreased.
Natural ecosystems are also suffering. The most vulnerable are degrading at an unprecedented rate. Experts estimate that between 20 and 90 percent (depending on how quickly sea levels rise) of coastal wetlands and 70 to 90 percent of coral reefs could disappear by the end of this century.