The new ‘Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update’ by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has stated that it is very likely that one or more months during the next 5 years will be at least 1.5°C warmer than preindustrial levels. It has also predicted that there is a 20% chance that the 1.5°C level will be reached in at least one year between 2020 and 2024.
The Paris Agreement of 2105 had resolved to contain warming to “well below” 2°C and strive for 1.5°C above preindustrial levels. The announcement by the WMO therefore comes as a reality check for world leaders engaged in endless rounds of negotiations since the historic 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update, led by the United Kingdom’s Met Office, provides a climate outlook for the next five years, updated annually. It harnesses the expertise of internationally acclaimed climate scientists and the best computer models from leading climate centers around the world to produce actionable information for decision-makers.
The projections include annual mean global temperature rise of at least 1° C above pre-industrial levels (1850-1900) in each of the subsequent five years beginning this year. (2020-2024). The update also declared that the earth’s average temperature is already over 1°C above the pre-industrial period, with the last five-years being the warmest five year period on record.
The report predicted that annual global temperature is likely to be at least 1°C warmer than preindustrial levels in each of the next 5 years with the significant possibility of some months passing the 1.5°C threshold. Although the possibility of an entire year, within the next 5 years, being warmer by 1.5°C is unlikely, the chances are progressively increasing.
Almost all regions, except parts of the southern oceans, are likely to be warmer than the recent past in the projections for 2020-2024. During the same period, high latitude regions and the Sahel region of Africa are likely to be wetter than the recent past. Northern and eastern parts of South America are likely to be dryer and more storms in western Europe during 2020-2024, as per the projections.
Within 2020, the Arctic is likely to have warmed by more than twice as much as the global mean. The study also predicted that large land areas in the Northern Hemisphere are likely to be over 0.8°C warmer than the recent past, whereas least temperature change is expected in the tropics and in the mid-latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere. Also this year, many parts of South America, southern Africa and Australia are likely to be dryer than the recent past.
While accounting for natural variations as well as human influences on climate to provide the best possible forecasts of temperature, rainfall, wind patterns and other variables for the coming five years, the forecast models do not take into consideration changes in emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.
The latest update presents a summary of annual to decadal predictions from WMO designated Global Producing Centers and non-designated contributing centers for the period 2020-2024. The WMO, with a membership of 193 Member States and Territories, originated from the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), and is the specialized agency of the United Nations for meteorology (weather and climate), operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences.