The average global temperature is 1°C warmer than before the industrial revolution, heading rapidly to the 1.5°C goal that nearly 200 countries agreed to under the Paris agreement.
The years between 2015 and 2018 were the four warmest on record.
From sea-level rise to forest fires, increased flooding and heatwaves, there’s a range of indicators from 2018 that show the impact of climate change.
What is the report?
This year’s State of the Climate report from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) is the 25th annual edition of their climate findings. Released on Thursday 28 March 2019, this new report presents the latest science on the state of the climate as we know it.
When the first WMO report came out in 1993, The World Wide Web was being born and Jurassic Park was a roaring success. It was also the year that carbon dioxide levels were at 357 parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere. This has now risen to 405.5ppm and is expected to increase steadily further.
This is having a significant impact on temperatures, with 2018 the fourth warmest year on record, almost 1°C above what they were between 1850-1900.
The WMO climate statement includes input from national meteorological and hydrological bodies, an extensive community of scientific experts, and UN agencies. It details climate-related risks and impacts on human health and welfare, migration and displacement, food security, the environment and ocean and land-based ecosystems. It also catalogues extreme weather around the world.
The physical signs and socio-economic impacts of climate change are accelerating as record greenhouse gas concentrations drive global temperatures towards increasingly dangerous levels, according to the report.
“[Hurricane] Idai’s victims personify why we need the global agenda on sustainable development, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.1
It’s another sign of things to come
The WMO clearly says that the physical and financial impacts of global warming are accelerating. As the report spells out, the temperature is rising. But hidden within the average global temperature of 1°C increase is a huge disparity and much larger increases in some regions last year. In the Arctic, the annual average temperature was 2°C higher and even up to 3°C higher in some places.
Some of the most abnormal conditions were seen in the summer heatwave in northern Europe, which wrought wildfires across 25,000 hectares in Sweden, as well as fires in the UK, Norway and Germany. France and Germany had their warmest year on record, while new temperature records were set in Japan.