State of the Global Climate in 2021 Report: En route to climate catastrophe? 4 major indicators broke records in 2021, says WMO

What is the News?

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has released the State of the Global Climate in 2021 Report.

What are the key findings of the report?
Source: TOI

Four Climate Indicators broke record: The world seems to be on a fast track toward climate catastrophe as four major climate indicators broke records in 2021. These indicators are:

1) Greenhouse gas concentrations reached a new global high in 2020 when the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 413.2 parts per million (ppm) globally or 149% of the pre-industrial level. 

2) Ocean heat was a record high. The upper 2000 m depth of the ocean continued to warm in 2021, and it is expected that it will continue to warm in the future – a change which is irreversible on centennial to millennial time scales. 

3) Ocean acidification. Ocean acidification is a phenomenon where due to the direct absorption of CO2, the chemical composition of oceanic water changes. As the acidification increases, the ability of oceans to absorb CO2 also decreases.

The report quotes IPCC which says that “there is very high confidence that open ocean surface pH (a measure of acidity) is now the lowest it has been for at least 26,000 years and current rates of pH change are unprecedented since at least that time.

4) Global mean sea level reached a new record high in 2021 after increasing at an average of 4.5 mm per year from 2013 to 2021. This is more than double the rate between 1993 and 2002 and is mainly due to the accelerated loss of ice mass from the ice sheets. 

Other Key Findings

Global Annual Mean Temperature: 2021 was one of the seven warmest years on record globally. The average global temperature in 2021 was about 1.11 (± 0.13) °C above the pre-industrial level. The pre-industrial level is the average temperature of the world from 1850 to 1900.

– The warming happened despite a La Nina phenomenon being active at the beginning and end of the year. La Nina is the cooler-than-normal phase of the El Nino Southern Oscillation in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, which generally leads to a temporary decrease in global temperatures.

Extreme Weather Events: Extreme weather events (like heat waves, cyclones and floods) around the world, led to loss and damages of more than $100 billion in 2021. For example, cyclonic events such as Tauktae and Gulab and floods in India have resulted in the displacement of more than one lakh people last year.

Source: The post is based on the article En route to climate catastrophe? 4 major indicators broke records in 2021, says WMOpublished in Down To Earth on 18th May 2022.

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