WMO Current Affairs

2016 will be hottest year on record

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the year 2016 was the warmest year on record globally.

It was mentioned in the WMO’s preliminary assessment provided in its ‘Status of the Global Climate in 2016’ report. WMO is the United Nations’s authoritative voice on Weather, Climate and Water.

Key Highlights of report

  • Global temperatures for January to September 2016 were 1.2oC above pre-industrial levels and 0.88°C above the average for the 1961-1990 reference period (baseline).
  • Ice and snow cover: Arctic sea ice remained at very low levels, especially during early 2016 and the October re-freezing period. In this region, temperatures were 6 to 7oC above the long-term average.
  • Many other Arctic and sub-Arctic regions in Russia, Alaska and northwest Canada were at least 3oC above average.
  • Oceans: The temperatures had spiked in the early months of the year 2016 because of the powerful El Niño event of 2015-16.
  • The excess ocean heat by the El Niño event had contributed to coral reef bleaching, and above-average sea-level rise.
  • However, the extra heat from the powerful El Nino event has disappeared, the heat from global warming will continue.
  • High-Impact events: Because of climate change, the occurrence and impact of extreme events has risen. Heat waves and flooding are becoming more regular.
  • Sea level rise has increased exposure to storm surges associated with tropical cyclones. Besides, wildfires and major droughts affected several parts of the world.
  • Humanitarian consequences: The annual and long-term changes in the climate system will aggravate social, humanitarian and environmental pressure.
  • Population migration is expected to increase as a result of more frequent and potentially more intense weather-related disasters.
  • Rising sea levels will render coastal and low lying zones uninhabitable. Climate Change will also increase competition and conflict over shrinking resources.

Paris Agreement on Climate Change

The Paris Agreement in 2015 had adopted 2oC as the absolute threshold for staying within safe global warming levels. However, 1.5 oC was set as an ambitious target, especially bearing in mind the fate of small island countries that are threatened with submergence due to sea-level rise and extreme weather events.

Comment

In future, the world is likely to cross 1.2 oC of global warming above pre-industrial levels in 2016. World is coming dangerously close to breaching the 1.5 oC warming level, which is an ambitious target to stay safe from the worst impacts of climate change.

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CO2 level reaches record high in 2016: WMO

According to the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin level of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the atmosphere has reached a record high.

The globally averaged concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere reached to 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 2015. It is expected to surge again to new records in 2016 on the back of the very powerful El Niño event.

Key Facts

  • This is for the first time CO2 levels have reached the 400 ppm barrier on a global average basis for the entire year.
  • Besides, longest-established GHGs monitoring station at Mauna Loa, Hawaii predicts that CO2 concentrations will stay above 400 ppm for whole of 2016 and not dip below that level for many generations.
  • There was a 37% increase in radiative forcing (the warming effect on our climate) because of long-lived GHGs such as CO2, methane and nitrous oxide (N2O) released from industrial, agricultural and domestic activities between 1990 and 2015.

What is relation between CO2 emissions and El Niño event?

  • According to WMO, the growth spurt in CO2 was fuelled by the El Niño event, which started in 2015 and had a strong impact well into 2016.
  • The El Niño event had triggered droughts in tropical regions and reduced the capacity of “sinks” like forests, vegetation and the oceans to absorb CO2.
  • These sinks currently absorb about half of CO2 emissions but now there is a risk that they may become saturated.
  • Once these sinks become saturated it will increase the fraction of emitted CO2 which stays in the atmosphere.

About World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

  • WMO is an intergovernmental organization and specialised agency of the UN for meteorology (weather and climate), operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences. It is a member of the United Nations Development Group.
  • Established: It had originated from the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), which was founded in 1873.
  • Membership: 191 Member States and Territories.
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.

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