(ORDO NEWS) — There is a possibility that in one of the next five years, global temperatures will temporarily exceed the benchmark of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the United Nations warned on Tuesday.
Under the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, countries agreed to limit global warming to “well below” 2°C compared to levels measured between 1850 and 1900 – and 1.5°C if possible.
“The chance of global surface temperatures exceeding 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels for at least one year between 2022 and 2026 is roughly zero,” says the UN World Meteorological Organization’s annual update.
WMO estimated this probability at 48 percent and stated that it increases over time.
An average temperature of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels over a multi-year period would violate the target set in Paris.
There is a 93 percent chance that even one year in the period 2022-2026 will be the warmest on record and displace 2016 from the top spot, according to the WMO.
The probability that the five-year average temperature in 2022-2026 will be higher than in the last five years (2017-2021) is also 93 percent.
“This study shows – with a high level of scientific proficiency – that we are tangibly closer to temporarily meeting the lower goal of the Paris Agreement,” said WMO chief Petteri Taalas.
“The 1.5°C figure is not some random statistic. It is rather an indicator of the moment when the impact of climate will become more dangerous for people and the entire planet.”
‘Closer and Closer’
The 1.5°C level set by the Paris Agreement refers to long-term warming, but temporary excesses of this level are expected to occur more frequently as global temperatures rise.
“Exceeding temperatures above 1.5°C for one year does not mean that we have crossed the landmark threshold of the Paris Agreement, but it shows that we are getting closer to a situation where temperatures of 1.5°C can be exceeded for an extended period” , said Leon Hermanson, of Britain’s national meteorological service, the Met Office, who led the preparation of the report.
According to preliminary WMO data, the average global temperature in 2021 was about 1.11 °C above pre-industrial levels.
The report says that successive La Nina events in early and late 2021 have had a cooling effect on global temperatures.
However, this was only a temporary phenomenon and did not reverse the long-term trend of global warming.
La Nina is a large-scale cooling of surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, typically occurring every two to seven years.
This effect has a wide-ranging impact on weather around the world—generally the opposite of that of the El Niño warming phase of the Southern Oscillation cycle.
Any development of an El Niño event will immediately whip up temperatures, as happened in 2016, the WMO said.
Relationship with greenhouse gases
The annual average global surface temperature for each year between 2022 and 2026 is projected to be 1.1°C and 1.7°C above pre-industrial levels.
There is only a 10% chance that the five-year average temperature will exceed the 1.5°C threshold.
“As long as we continue to emit greenhouse gases, temperatures will continue to rise,” Taalas said.
At the same time, our oceans will continue to warm and become more acidic, sea ice and glaciers will continue to melt, sea levels will continue to rise, and our weather will become more extreme.”
“Arctic warming is disproportionately large, and what happens in the Arctic affects all of us.”
Meanwhile, projected rainfall patterns for 2022, compared to 1991-2020 averages, indicate an increase in the likelihood of drier conditions in southwestern Europe and southwestern North America, and wetter conditions in northern Europe, the Sahel, northeastern Brazil and Australia.
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