STORY: State of the Global Climate in 2022 - WMO
SOURCE: UNTV CH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
RELEASE DATE: 21 April 2023
Droughts, floods and heatwaves affected communities on every continent and cost many billions of dollars as climate change continued its advance in 2022.
This is one of the key findings of the annual flagship report “State of the Global Climate” launched today by the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) at the United Nations in Geneva.
“We have again broken a new record in ocean heat, heat content which is, for example, giving more energy for tropical storms, cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons,” said WMO Secretary-General, Professor Petteri Taalas.
The “State of the Global climate 2022” report is released in advance of Earth Day on 22 April. It reports on climate change indicators such as temperature, ocean heat and acidification, sea level rise, sea ice and glaciers but also on extreme weather.
“We have doubled the sea level rise during the past 20 years”, reported WMO’s Professor Taalas. “We used to have a 2.3 mm per year sea level rise twenty years ago, and now we have seen an increase of 4.6mm per year. That increase is very much coming from the melting of major glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica.”
The European Alps smashed records for glacier melt due to a combination of little winter snow, an intrusion of Sahara dust in March 2022 and heatwaves between May and early September.
“Melting of the glaciers continue and there has been a four-time increase of the melting of glaciers since the 1970s and here in Switzerland we lost 6.2 per cent of the glacier mass last summer because of the heatwave, which is a new record,” said Professor Taalas.
WMO’s new figures show that global temperatures have continued to rise, making the years 2015 to 2022 the eight warmest ever since regular tracking started in 1850 despite three consecutive years of a cooling La Niña climate pattern.
Furthermore, WMO says concentrations of the three main greenhouse gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere – carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide – reached record highs in 2021, which is the latest year for which consolidated data is available, and that there are indications of a continued increase in 2022.
“Unfortunately, these negative trends in weather patterns and all of these parameters, may continue until 2060 independent of our success in climate mitigation”, predicted WMO’s Secretary-General. “We have already emitted so much, especially carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that this phasing out of negative trends will take several decades. As I said, we have already lost this 'melting of glaciers' game and 'sea level rise' game.”
Heatwaves in China and Europe affected tens of million, drove food insecurity, boosted mass migration, and cost billions of dollars in loss and damage, according to WMO’s Secretary- General.
"Last summer, the heatwave here in Europe led to casualties of about 15,000 people who died because of the heat wave and poor air quality”, said Prof. Petteri Taalas. “In China, last summer was the hottest summer ever and it was also the second driest summer that they have observed. They also reached record-low level of water in their main river called Yangtze.”
In addition to climate indicators, the report focuses on impacts. Throughout the year, hazardous climate and weather-related events drove new population displacement and worsened conditions for many of the 95 million people already living in displacement at the beginning of the year, according to the report.
“We have started seeing the increase of food insecurity again,” stressed Professor Taalas. “There have been more than 20 million people affected in the Horn of Africa, 28 million in Latin America and Caribbean, 19 million in Afghanistan and 7 million in South Sudan.”
In Somalia, almost 1,2 million people became internally displaced by the catastrophic impacts of drought on pastoral and farming livelihood and hunger during the year.
Record breaking rainfall in Pakistan in July and August last year killed over 1,700 people, while some 33 million were affected.
The report also puts a spotlight on ecosystems and the environment and show how climate change is affecting recurring events in natura, such as when trees blossom, or birds migrate.
On a positive note, Prof. Petteri Taalas emphasized that “governments have realized that there is a problem called climate change and they can see it with their own eyes.” He added that “the proof of scientific facts is now very clear. What has also been happening during the past few years is that the private sector has started acting. So, a growing number of companies worldwide are interested in climate mitigation and being part of the solution.”
The report points out that that today, improved technology makes the transition to renewable energy cheaper and more accessible than ever.
Dozens of experts contributed to the report, including National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) and Global Data and Analysis Centers, as well as Regional Climate Centres, the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW), the Global Cryosphere Watch and Copernicus Climate Change Service operated by ECMWF.
UN partners such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO-IOC), International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the World Food Programme (WFP) also provided input to the report.