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.
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.