The years between 2015 and 2021 are likely to be the warmest years ever. The United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO) writes that in a preliminary report on the state of the climate in 2021. According to the report, we are entering an “unknown territory” in terms of global climate.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement that the annual report notes that “our planet is transforming right before our eyes, from the depths of the ocean to the tops of mountains, under the relentless influence of melting glaciers and extreme weather events.” Press release.
2021 will not break any temperature records due to the La Niña weather phenomenon that caused temperatures to drop at the beginning of this year. But there is a good chance he will finish this year in fifth to seventh place. So the past seven years will be the warmest seven years on record. 2016 remains the hottest year yet.
In the first nine months of 2021, the average temperature rose by about 1.09 degrees compared to the pre-industrial era. For the first time, the average temperature increase in the past 20 years has exceeded the symbolic limit by one degree. Preliminary numbers show that temperatures continue to rise. A 20-year average increase above one degree would be surprising for COP26 representatives trying to contain the increase, as set out in the Paris climate agreement, said Stephen Belcher, a co-author on the study.
This agreement aims to limit global warming to two degrees – and if possible 1.5 degrees – compared to the pre-industrial era. However, scientists have warned that according to current trends we will already be above 1.5 degrees by 2030 and that with the climate efforts of countries we will even reach a warming of 2.7 degrees today.
In the report, the authors note that warming of one degree already has clear consequences, with more and more extreme weather events. In just 2021, we experienced extreme heat waves in North America and southern Europe, devastating fires in Canada and Siberia, a staggering cold in the central United States, torrential rains in China and Western Europe – including Belgium – and droughts that led to famine in Madagascar.
Among the so-called “hot issues” during COP26 is how we as a scientist must adapt to climate change, and in particular to sea level rise due to melting ice caps. Between 2013 and 2021, sea level rose by 4.4 mm each year, and in 2021 it rose to an all-time high.
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