Climate Change

Increased chance of earth breaching 1.5°C in next five years

One of the years from 2023-2027 could be the warmest ever recorded, warns WMO

By Akshit Sangomla
Published: Thursday 18 May 2023
There is also a 32 per cent chance that the combined mean temperature for 2023-2027 could exceed 1.5°C, said the WMO. Photo:

Each of the years between 2023 and 2027 would be warmer than the pre-industrial average (1850-1900) by 1.1-1.8 degrees Celsius. There’s a 66 per cent chance of one of these years crossing the annual average temperature of 1.5°C.

These findings were released by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) May 17, 2023 in the Global Annual and Decadal Climate Update

Just in March 2023, the WMO had predicted a 50 per cent chance that the world’s average annual temperature could breach the 1.5°C mark in the next three years. 

Read more: Mocha and the ever-growing fiasco we are pushing ourselves into

The earth is already warmer by 1.1°C as compared to the pre-industrial average. The year 2022 was warmer than the pre-industrial average by 1.15°C. This was despite a record three-year La Niña event, which generally brings down global temperatures. 

There is also a 32 per cent chance that the combined mean temperature for 2023-2027 could exceed 1.5°C. 

Petteri Taalas, secretary general of WMO, said: 

This report does not mean that we will permanently exceed the 1.5°C level specified in the 2015 Paris Agreement, which refers to long-term warming over many years. However, WMO is sounding the alarm that we will breach the 1.5°C level on a temporary basis with increasing frequency

One of these years would also be the warmest year ever recorded, surpassing 2016 with an almost certainty (98 per cent chance). The mean temperature of these five years is also almost certainly (98 per cent chance) going to be higher than the previous five years. 

The probability of average annual temperature crossing the 1.5°C mark has steadily increased since 2015, when it was almost zero, the WMO noted. The chance was at 10 per cent for 2017-2021. 

The worst impacted region would be the Arctic, where the temperature anomalies would be three times the global average from 2023-2027 compared to the average of 1991-2020. The WMO recently changed their baseline period from 1981-2010 to 1991-2020. 

The WMO also predicted an increase in rainfall in regions such as the Sahel in Africa, northern Europe, Alaska and northern Siberia, while a decrease is expected in the usually rain-rich Amazon region, Indonesia, Central America and parts of Australia. 

Read more: Heatwaves, droughts, extreme rain may be near permanent in 20 countries at 1.5°C warming

The increased temperatures, combined with changed rainfall patterns all around the world, could mean more frequent and intense extreme weather events such as heat waves, floods and tropical cyclones.

Slow onset changes such as sea level rise, ocean acidification and long-term droughts, as have been seen in recent years, will also follow. 

“A warming El Niño is expected to develop in the coming months and this will combine with human-induced climate change to push global temperatures into uncharted territory”, Taalas highlighted.

“This will have far-reaching repercussions for health, food security, water management and the environment. We need to be prepared,” he added. 

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