In a groundbreaking synthesis of six major international datasets, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has revealed a stark reality: the last eight years stand as the hottest ever recorded globally. As of 2022, the planetary average temperature soared approximately 1.15 °C above its pre-industrial levels (1850-1900). Across all datasets scrutinized by the WMO, the annual global temperatures have consistently exceeded pre-industrial levels by at least 1°C for the eighth consecutive year (2015-2022). This timeframe, from 2015 to 2022, encapsulates the hottest eight years on record, signaling a concerning trajectory.
Paris Agreement Thresholds and Ongoing Climate Challenges
Despite 2022 not clinching the record for the hottest year due to a lingering La Niña episode, it still ranked among the top five or six. However, the cooling effect associated with La Niña is expected to be short-lived, offering no reprieve from the long-term warming trend fueled by record levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The WMO's Info‑Niño/Niña bulletin estimates a 60% likelihood of La Niña persisting from January to March 2023, followed by ENSO-neutral conditions.
Looking at the ten-year span from 2013 to 2022, the average temperature surpasses pre-industrial levels by 1.14°C. This figure, compared to the 1.09°C estimate for 2011 to 2020, as per the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sixth assessment report, underscores the sustained long-term warming.
Climate Catastrophes: A Harsh Reality
In 2022, the world witnessed a series of dramatic meteorological catastrophes, leaving a heavy toll on both human lives and economies. Extensive flooding in Pakistan, record-breaking heatwaves in China, Europe, North and South America, and the lingering drought in the Horn of Africa, all contribute to a perilous global scenario. These events jeopardize sectors such as health, food, energy, and water infrastructure.
The Secretary-General of the WMO, Mr. Petteri Taalas, emphasizes the urgent need to enhance preparedness for such extreme events, aligning with the United Nations' goal to provide all global inhabitants with early warning systems within the next five years. Currently, only half of the 193 Member States have effective early warning services, exacerbating economic and human losses. Significant deficiencies in basic meteorological observations in Africa and island states further compromise weather forecasts' quality.
Understanding the Data: Unveiling WMO's Methodology
The WMO meticulously synthesizes six international datasets to provide the most reliable temperature assessments. Utilizing data from NOAA, NASA's GISS, the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre, and others, the WMO combines millions of weather and ocean observations, including satellite data, to create a comprehensive atmospheric reanalysis. The ranking of the hottest years since 2015, with 2016, 2019, and 2020 leading the pack, reinforces the escalating climate crisis.
Differences in temperature rankings among datasets are marginal and fall within the margin of error for global temperature averages. The final WMO report on the global climate in 2022, to be published in April 2023, will integrate temperature data with other climate indicators, offering a comprehensive overview of climate conditions.
The Urgency of Paris Agreement Targets
The Paris Agreement, aiming to limit the global average temperature increase well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, with efforts to cap it at 1.5 °C, faces a daunting challenge. The global average temperature for the ten-year period from 2013 to 2022 already exceeds pre-industrial levels by approximately 1.14 °C. This rise approaches the lower limit set by the Paris Agreement.
In conclusion, the WMO's authoritative findings highlight the critical need for collective action to mitigate climate change's far-reaching consequences. As we delve into the intricacies of climatic shifts, it becomes evident that urgent measures are imperative to safeguard our planet's future. The upcoming release of the finalized WMO report in April 2023 will provide further insights into the complex interplay of factors shaping our global climate.