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State of Global Climate report 2018

State of Global Climate report 2018

Relevance:

  • GS 3 || Environment || Climate Change || Tackling Climate Change

Why in news?

  • The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released Statement on State of the Global Climate in 2018, its 25th anniversary edition, first issued in 1994.

Highlights

  • Climate indicators: The report highlighted how the world was regressing on key climate indicators.
    • sea levels rose at a record pace last year,
    • vast ocean stretches continued to become acidic, posing a threat to marine biodiversity
    • very high land and ocean temperatures over the last four years, and
    • most monitored glaciers are retreating
  • Emissions: The record sea level increase, ocean acidification and very high land and ocean temperatures over the last four years is linked to rising anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
    • The CO2 levels, which were at 357 parts per million (PPM) when the statement was first published in 1994, kept rising to reach 405.5 PPM in 2017.
    • The greenhouse gas concentrations are expected to increase even further for 2018 and 2019.
  • Extreme weather events: WMO also underlined the extreme weather events experienced all over the world in 2018, including the severe flooding in Kerala in August 2018, which led to economic losses estimated at $4.3 billion.
    • Rainfall in Kerala in August was 96% above the long-term average.
    • Weekly totals for the 9-15 and 16-22 August periods were 258% and 218% above average, respectively.
  • A cold wave also affected parts of India, with 135 deaths between January 3 and 13 attributed to cold in Uttar Pradesh.

Impacts

  • Warming: According to data collated from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2018 was ranked among the top 10 warmest years in Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania and South America.
  • Globally, several key climate indicators like sea level rise and glacier loss painted a stark picture of dangerous climate change impact.
    • Sea-surface waters in a number of oceans were unusually warm in 2018, including much of the Pacific.
    • The greatest rates of ocean warming were seen in the southern ocean, with warming reaching the deepest layers.
    • In November 2017, a marine heat wave developed in the Tasman Sea that persisted until February 2018.
      • Sea-surface temperatures in the Tasman Sea exceeded 2 °C above normal, setting a record.
    • Ocean acidification: As ocean acidification rises, marine biodiversity is at a major risk.
    • Decrease in global ocean oxygen: Since the middle of the last century, there has been an estimated 1%-2% decrease in the global ocean oxygen inventory.
      • Many hundreds of sites are known to have experienced oxygen concentrations that impair biological processes or are lethal for many organisms.
      • Regions with historically low oxygen concentrations are expanding, and new regions are now exhibiting low oxygen conditions.
    • Sea level: The global mean sea level for 2018 was around 3.7 mm higher than in 2017 and the highest on record. Rapid ice mass loss from ice sheets is the main cause of the global mean sea-level rise.
    • Arctic sea-ice extent was significantly below average throughout 2018 and was at record low levels for the first two months of the year.
      • The statement referred to monitoring of glacier mass-balance (glaciers losing more mass than they receive will be in negative mass balance and will recede) by the World Glacier Monitoring Service for 19 mountain regions.
      • Preliminary results for 2018 indicate that 2017-18 was the 31st consecutive year of negative mass balance for the glaciers monitored.
    • Rainfall: Although weak La Niña conditions were noticed at the beginning of 2018, the effect on precipitation was the opposite of what had been expected.
      • For example, several floods occurred in California, an unexpected event during La Niña.
      • The Indian monsoon brought less rainfall than normal to the Western Ghats and the eastern parts of the Himalayas, but higher than normal precipitation in the Western Himalayas.
      • The all-India rainfall for June to September 2018 was around 9% below the long-term average.

Conclusion

  • A German climate risk index puts India among top 20 countries in terms of vulnerability to climate change.
  • The problem is the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement of 2015 have only qualitative targets.
    • It doesn’t have quantitative targets on reducing vulnerability of countries and improving their capabilities to adapt to climate change. NDCs are quite vague on that.
    • Quantifying loss and damage is crucial but still a technical challenge. But it’s important to address losses due to climate change so that compensation can be sought.
  • WMO report has revealed the severity of climate impacts. There are many Kerala like climate disasters happening in other parts of the country impacting the poor.
  • While it is evident that no nation is immune to climate change, it is the poor who pay the cost of the inaction.
    • Poor people and countries need urgent support in tackling climate impacts that are forcing millions out of their homes.
  • Rich countries must lead the transition to a greener economy and assist developing countries to follow suit.

Additional info

World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

  • The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is an intergovernmental organization with a membership of 192 Member States and Territories.
  • The Organization is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • It followed on from the International Meteorological Organization, founded in 1873, a non-governmental organization.
    • Reforms of status and structure were proposed from the 1930s, culminating in the World Meteorological Convention signed on 11 October 1947 which came into force on 23 March 1950.
  • It formally became the World Meteorological Organization on 17 March 1951, and was designated as a specialized agency of the United Nations.
  • The annually published WMO Statements on the status of the World Climate provides details of global, regional and national temperatures and extreme weather events.
    • It also provides information on long-term climate change indicators including atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, sea level rise, and sea ice extent.
    • The year 2016 was the hottest year on record, with many weather and climate extremes, according to the most recent WMO report.

Mains question

  • “There is a need for a holistic understanding of the socioeconomic consequences of increasingly intense extreme weather on countries.” Discuss in light of Statement on State of the Global Climate in 2018 released by World Meteorological Organization (WMO).