· Greenhouse gas concentrations
In 2020, levels reached a new global peak and continued to rise in 2021. The concentration of carbon dioxide reached 413.2 parts per million worldwide, a 149% improvement on pre-industrial levels.
“We have broken records in main greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide and especially the record in carbon dioxide is striking; we haven’t seen any improvement despite of the lockdowns caused by COVID in 2020, so the concentrations continue growing”, explains WMO chief Petteri Taalas.
· Ocean heat
Another record high. The upper 2,000m depth of ocean water continued to warm in 2021 and it is expected that it will continue to warm in the future – a change which is irreversible on centennial to millennial time scales, and affects deeply marine ecosystems such as coral reefs.
· Ocean acidification
Due to the ocean’s excess carbon dioxide (CO2) (roughly 23% annually), the ocean is acidifying its waters.
This has negative consequences for organisms and ecosystems as well as human food security, tourism, and food security.
The decreasing PH level also means the ocean’s capacity to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere also decreases.
“90 per cent of the excess heat that we have produced to the planet, they are stored in ocean”, informs Prof. Taalas.
© Coral Reef Image Bank/Tom Vierus
· Sea-level rise
The accelerated melting of ice from the ice sheets caused sea level to rise by a record 4.5 mm annually between 2013 and 2021.
This has serious implications for hundreds and millions of coastal residents, as well as increasing vulnerability to tropical cyclones.
The world’s glaciers that scientists use as a reference have thinned by 33.5 meters since 1950, with 76% happening since 1980.
2021 saw record melting of glaciers in Canada, the US Northwest, and Canada due to heatwaves and fires in June/ July.
Greenland also saw an extraordinary mid-August melt, and the first-ever recorded precipitation at its highest point.
In 2021, the heat set new records in Western North America and Europe. Death Valley, California reached 54.4 °C on 9 July, equalling a similar 2020 value as the highest recorded in the world since at least the 1930s, and Syracuse in Sicily reached 48.8 °C.
A heatwave in British Columbia, Canada, caused more than 500 deaths and fueled devastating wildfires.
· Flooding and Droughts
Flooding It caused economic losses of US$17.7billion in Henan province in China and 20 billion in Germany. It also caused heavy losses in life.
DroughtMany parts of the globe were affected by the disaster, including the Horn of Africa (Sudan), South America, Canada, Mexico, and Turkey.
Through 2022, the drought in Horn of Africa has increased. Eastern Africa is now facing the very real possibility of the rains failing for a fourth season consecutively, putting Ethiopia and Somalia in drought that will last for 40 years.
“These [climate]The impacts are unevenly distributed. If you’re living in Central America, South America, Central, East or West Africa, South Asia or in a Small Island Developing State, you’re 15 times more likely to die from climate-related impact or a climate-related weather extreme”, explains Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Action, Selwin Hart.
· Food security
The compounded effects from conflict, extreme weather events, and economic shocks, further exacerbated the COVID-19Global food security improvements have been thwarted by a pandemic.
In 2021, the number of countries at high risk of famine has increased due to worsening humanitarian crises. More than half of the undernourished population in 2020 will be found in Asia (418 millions) and Africa (282 million).
“There’s a component coming from this COVID crisis, and there’s a high risk now because of the war in Ukraine that we will see major hunger problems”, adds Prof. Taalas.
Internal displacement was still a result of water-related disasters. China (more then 1.4 million), Viet Nam (386,000.) and the Philippines (386,000.) had the highest recorded numbers of displacements as of October 2021.