Climate Change

Avg global temperature can rise by 1.5°C in next 5 years: WMO report

Countries under 2015 Paris Agreement had agreed to try and limit average global temperature rise to below 2°C by the end of the century

By Akshit Sangomla
Published: Friday 10 July 2020

One of the next five years may be witness to global average temperatures of 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels (defined as the average of global temperatures between 1850-1900), according to a recent World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report. There is a 20 per cent possibility of the event. 

This is significant as the countries under 2015 Paris Agreement had agreed to try and limit the average global temperature rise to below 2°C by the end of the century.

If the annual average temperature increase shoots past the 1.5°C-mark more frequently, achieving the Paris targets would be challenging. The last five years have already been the warmest ever recorded, according to WMO.

The report, The Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update, also said the global average temperature rise would very likely be above 1°C in each of the next five years. The range of temperatures is likely to be between 0.91 and 1.59°C.

There is also a 70 per cent chance that the 1.5°C rise above pre-industrial levels barrier will happen in one or more months in this time.

The forecast for global temperatures in the next five years showed a significant upward trend when compared to the temperatures in the recent past, which is considered to be between 1981 and 2010. Between 2020 and 2024, all regions of the world, except the southern oceans, are likely to be warmer.

The period will also witness an increase in the number of storms in the European region.

In 2020 alone, the temperatures over large land areas in the northern hemisphere may be 0.8°C more than the recent past. The Arctic region in specific might warm up at more than twice the rate as compared to global average.

The region had, till now, warmed at twice the rate of global average. The extreme temperature trend is already visible in the region.

On June 20, Verkhoyansk in Siberia recorded a temperature of 38°C, possibly the highest ever recorded in the entire Arctic region. The region has experienced heat waves in the last few months leading to rapid melting of permafrost. This has, in turn, contributed to the emission of methane, a greenhouse gas.

The temperature rise in the Arctic has a cascading effect on the weather patterns around the world through the disruption in the Arctic jet stream, especially with respect to extreme weather events like heat waves, cold waves and extreme rainfall events leading to floods and landslides.

For instance, in India, the increasingly wavy nature of the Arctic jet stream affects the western disturbances which bring winter rainfall to north-west, northern and north eastern regions of the country.

Some regions of South America, southern Africa and Australia will receive less rainfall than the recent past in 2020. This situation might lead to draughts.

Australia has already experienced extended drought periods in the past two years. Some research papers have suggested that these recent droughts in the country, especially in the southern parts, have been the worst in the last 800 years.

The situation continues to be dismal as in June 2020, the country received its third-lowest rainfall on record, according to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology. 

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