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WMO’s State of Climate Report: Key Findings

Utkarsh Classes 20-03-2024
WMO’s State of Climate Report: Key Findings Report 7 min read

The annual 'State of Climate' report by the World Meteorological Organisation has revealed that in 2023, the average global near-surface temperature was 1.45 ± 0.12 degree Celsius higher than the average temperature recorded between 1850 and 1900. This makes it the warmest year on record in the past 174 years.

For India, 2023 was the second warmest year on record in the country since 1901.

Key Findings 

  • The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has released a new report indicating that many records were broken or exceeded for greenhouse gas levels, surface temperatures, ocean heat and acidification, sea level rise, Antarctic sea ice cover and glacier retreat. 
  • The report reveals that heatwaves, floods, droughts, wildfires and intensifying tropical cyclones caused severe disruption to millions of people's everyday lives and resulted in billions of dollars in economic losses. This is according to the WMO State of the Global Climate 2023 report.

2023 Hottest Year

  • In 2023, a significant portion of the world's ocean was affected by a marine heatwave, causing harm to important ecosystems and food systems. By the end of 2023, over 90% of the ocean had experienced heatwave conditions at some point during the year. Preliminary data showed that glaciers around the world experienced the largest ice loss since 1950, primarily due to severe melting in western North America and Europe.

Greenhouse gases

In 2022, the levels of three main greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide - reached new heights. This trend continued in 2023, with real-time data from specific locations showing further increases. Carbon dioxide, which is 50% higher than pre-industrial levels, traps heat in the atmosphere. This causes temperatures to rise and will continue to do so for many years to come, due to the long lifetime of carbon dioxide.

Temperature

In 2023, the Earth's average temperature at its surface was 1.45 ± 0.12 °C higher than the average temperature from 1850 to 1900, before industrialization. This makes 2023 the hottest year recorded in the past 174 years. This temperature broke the previous records set by 2016 at 1.29 ± 0.12 °C above the 1850-1900 average and 2020 at 1.27±0.13 °C.

Over the past decade, from 2014 to 2023, the average global temperature was 1.20±0.12°C higher than the average temperature from 1850 to 1900.

Ocean heat

In 2023, the ocean heat content reached its highest level as per a consolidated analysis of data. The analysis shows that warming rates have increased significantly in the past two decades. It is expected that warming will continue, which is an irreversible change for several hundreds to thousands of years.

Sea level rise

Sea levels have been rising due to warming oceans and melting glaciers and ice sheets. In 2023, the world saw the highest sea level on record since 1993, when satellite measurements began. The rate of sea level rise in the past decade (2014-2023) was more than twice the rate of the first decade of satellite measurements (1993-2002).

Cryosphere

In February 2023, the Antarctic sea-ice extent reached a record low for the time that satellites have been measuring it (since 1979). This record low was maintained until early November of the same year. In September, the annual maximum was 16.96 million km2, which is about 1.5 million km2 below the average from 1991 to 2020, and 1 million km2 below the previous record low maximum.

The Arctic sea-ice extent remained below normal, with the fifth lowest annual maximum and the sixth lowest annual minimum on record.

Extreme weather and climate events

Severe weather and climate events have had significant impacts on populated areas across the world, causing major floods, tropical cyclones, extreme heat, drought, and associated wildfires. In September, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Libya were hit by heavy rainfall from the Mediterranean Cyclone Daniel, which caused significant loss of life in Libya. Meanwhile, Tropical Cyclone Freddy in February and March caused major damage in Madagascar, Mozambique, and Malawi, and was one of the longest-lived tropical cyclones in the world.

Climate Financing

Climate-related finance flows across the globe almost hit USD 1.3 trillion in 2021/2022, which is almost double compared to the levels in 2019/2020. 

However, only 1% of global GDP is represented by tracked climate finance flows, according to the Climate Policy Initiative. There is a large financing gap to bridge. In an average scenario for a 1.5°C pathway, annual climate finance investments need to grow by over six times to reach almost USD 9 trillion by 2030 and a further USD 10 trillion through 2050.

FAQ

Answer: World Meteorological Organisation

Answer: 2023
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