Climate Change

Climate change 'hitting harder and sooner' than forecast: Report

Global temperatures have risen by 1.1°C since 1850, and have increased 0.2°C between 2011 and 2015

By DTE Staff
Published: Monday 23 September 2019
Photo: Getty Images

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.

Impacts of climate change are “hitting harder and sooner” than what was forecast a decade ago, warned scientists in a new report.

The global temperatures have increased by 1.1 degree Celsius since 1850, and have spiked 0.2°C between 2011 and 2015, stated the report, United in Science, compiled by World Meteorological Organization (WMO) under the umbrella of the Science Advisory Group of the United Nations Climate Summit.

In 2018, the annual growth in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions soared 2 per cent and reached a record high of 37 billion tonnes. While there is no sign of a peak in global emissions, economic and energy trends predict emissions to be “high in 2019 as in 2018”, the report noted.

The current levels of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide represent 146 per cent, 257 per cent and 122 per cent respectively of preindustrial levels.

Moreover, the average global temperatures from 2015-2019 are also on track to be the warmest five-year period on record, the report showed. 

The increasing climate change has also accelerated sea-level rise, and made oceans more acidic than ever before.

Global sea-levels increased to approximately four millimeters per year (mm/yr) during 2007-2016, from 3.04 mm/yr during 1997-2006, while ocean acidity spiked by 26 per cent since the beginning of the industrial era, the report noted.

Increasing ocean warming and land ice melt from the Greenland and West Antarctica ice sheets have contributed to the rise in sea level. Rise in CO2 levels, meanwhile, are responsible for the growing acidity in the oceans.

Oceans are a major source of carbon sink. They store nearly 25 per cent of the annual human induced CO2 emissions. While the seawater dissolves the CO2, it increases ocean acidity leading to major consequences for marine life and coastal habitats.

“The ecological cost to the ocean, however, is high, as the changes in acidity are linked to shifts in other carbonate chemistry parameters, such as the saturation state of aragonite. This process, detrimental to marine life and ocean services, needs to be constantly monitored,” the report noted.

The report also recorded a decline in Arctic sea ice by 12 per cent per decade from 1979-2018. Antarctic ice sheet lost at least six-fold amount of ice annually between 1979 and 2017.

To combat climate the impacts of climate change, the need is to triple nationally determined contributions (NDCs), the report suggested.

“The current level of NDC ambition needs to be roughly tripled for emission reduction to be in line with the 2°C goal and increased five-fold for the 1.5°C goal,” the report stated.

The report, released ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit in New York on September 23, 2019 hosted by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, highlights the increasing influence of human-induced climate change, and presses the need to mitigate them to avert dangerous global temperature increase that can have potentially irreversible impacts.

“The report provides a unified assessment of the state of our Earth system under the increasing influence of anthropogenic climate change, of humanity’s response thus far and of the far-reaching changes that science projects for our global climate in the future,” the Science Advisory Group, said in a release. 

“It highlights the urgent need for the development of concrete actions that halt global warming and the worst effects of climate change,” it added.

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