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State of the Global Climate: WMO

  • 29 Mar 2019
  • 7 min read
  • World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has published the Statement on the State of the Global Climate on the sidelines of a high-level meeting on climate and sustainable development.

World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

  • The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is an intergovernmental organization with a membership of 192 Member States and Territories.
  • It originated from the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), which was established after the 1873 Vienna International Meteorological Congress.
  • Established by the ratification of the WMO Convention on 23 March 1950, WMO became the specialized agency of the United Nations for meteorology (weather and climate), operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences.'
  • WMO is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

WMO’s Findings

    • Climate indicators

      • 2018: Fourth Warmest Year

        • 2018 was the fourth warmest year on record.
        • The past four years—2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018—taken together are the four warmest years on record.
      • Greenhouse Gas Concentrations Continue to Rise
        • The levels of carbon dioxide concentrations have continuously increased in 2018.
        • Increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are key drivers of climate change.
        • The CO2 levels were at 357 parts per million (PPM) in 1994 and reached 405.5 PPM in 2017.
      • Sea Level Rise Continues
        • Mean Global Mean Sea Level for the period from January to July 2018 has been 2 to 3 mm higher than for the equivalent period in 2017.
      • Ocean Heat Content at Record High
        • More than 90% of the energy trapped by greenhouse gases, goes into the oceans. Ocean Heat Content provides a direct measure of the energy that accumulates in the upper layers of the ocean.
        • For each three-month period in 2018, the ocean heat content in the upper 700m and upper 2000m were either the highest or second highest on record.
      • Ocean Acidification
        • In the past decade, the oceans absorbed around 25% of carbon dioxide emitted by humans. Absorbed carbon dioxide reacts with seawater and changes the pH of the ocean. This process is known as ocean acidification.
        • Observations in the open-ocean over the last 30 years have shown a clear trend of decreasing pH. There was a decrease in the surface ocean pH of 0.1 units since the start of the industrial revolution (1750).
        • Changes in pH are linked to shifts in ocean carbonate chemistry that can affect the ability of marine organisms such as mollusks and reef-building corals, to build and maintain shells and skeletal material.
      • Sea Ice Well Below Average
        • The extent of Arctic sea ice was below average throughout 2018 and was at record-low levels for the first two months of the year.
        • The annual maximum occurred in mid-March at 14.48 million square km, third lowest on record and approximately 7% below the 1981-2010 average.
        • Antarctic sea-ice extent was also well below average throughout 2018. The annual minimum extent occurred in late February and the monthly average was 2.28 million square km, 33% below average.
      • Glaciers are retreating
        • World Glacier Monitoring Service monitors glacier using a set of global reference glaciers with more than 30 years of observations between 1950 and 2018.
        • Preliminary results for 2018, based on a subset of glaciers, indicate that the hydrological year 2017/18 was the 31st consecutive year of negative mass balance (mass balance is the gain or loss of ice from the glacier system).
      • Extreme Weather Events in India
        • WMO also underlined the extreme weather events experienced all over the world in 2018, including the severe flooding in Kerala in August 2018, which led to economic losses estimated at $4.3 billion. Rainfall in Kerala in August was 96% above the long-term average.
        • A cold wave also affected parts of India, with 135 deaths between January 3 and 13 in 2018 attributed to cold in Uttar Pradesh.

  • Climate impacts
    • Hazards
      • In 2018, natural hazards associated with extreme weather and climate events affected nearly 62 million people.
      • Floods affected more than 35 million throughout the world.
      • Hurricane Florence and Michael in 2018 in the U.S. led to over 100 deaths and damages of around $49 billion.
      • 1,600 deaths were associated with intense heat waves and wildfires in Europe, Japan, and the U.S.
      • Between 2000 and 2016, the number of people exposed to heatwaves is estimated to have increased by around 125 million persons,
    • Food security
      • Exposure of the agriculture sector to climate extremes is threatening to reverse gains made in ending malnutrition.
      • New data by the Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Programme shows a continuing rise in world hunger after a prolonged decline.
      • In 2017, the number of undernourished people was estimated to have increased to 821 million, partly due to severe droughts associated with the strong El Niño of 2015–2016.
    • Displacement
      • Out of the 17.7 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) tracked by the International Organization for Migration, over two million people were displaced due to disasters linked to weather and climate events as of September 2018.
      • According to UNHCR’s Protection and Return Monitoring Network, some 883,000 new internal displacements were recorded between January and December 2018, of which 32 percent were associated with flooding and 29 percent with drought.
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