WMO Report: 2023 set to be the warmest year on record

2023 has shattered climate records, accompanied by extreme weather which has left a trail of devastation and despair, says UN‘s World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Released at COP28 Thursday, the WMO provisional State of the Global Climate report confirms that 2023 is set to be the warmest year on record.

Data until the end of October shows that the year was about 1.40 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial levels.

The difference between 2023 and 2016 and 2020 – which were previously ranked as the warmest years – is such that the final two months are very unlikely to affect the ranking, the WMO says.

The past nine years, 2015 to 2023, were the warmest on record. The warming El Niño event, which emerged during the Northern Hemisphere spring of 2023 and developed rapidly during summer, is likely to further fuel the heat in 2024.

This is because El Niño typically has the greatest impact on global temperatures after it peaks, the report argues.

The report further states that Carbon dioxide levels are 50 % higher than the pre-industrial era, trapping heat in the atmosphere. The long lifetime of CO2 means that temperatures will continue to rise for many years to come.

The rate of sea level rise from 2013-2022, it says, is more than twice the rate of the first decade of the satellite record (1993-2002) because of continued ocean warming and melting of glaciers and ice sheets.

“It’s a deafening cacophony of broken records,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas lamented..

“These are more than just statistics. We risk losing the race to save our glaciers and to rein in sea level rise. We cannot return to the climate of the 20th century, but we must act now to limit the risks of an increasingly inhospitable climate in this and the coming centuries”.

“Extreme weather is destroying lives and livelihoods on a daily basis – underlining the imperative need to ensure that everyone is protected by early warning services,” said Taalas.

The report shows the global reach of climate change. It provides a snapshot of socio-economic impacts, including on food security and population displacement.

“This year we have seen communities around the world pounded by fires, floods and searing temperatures. Record global heat should send shivers down the spines of world leaders,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

The WMO provisional State of the Global Climate report was published to inform negotiations at COP28 in Dubai. It combines input from National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, regional climate centres, UN partners and leading climate scientists. The temperature figures are a consolidation of six leading international datasets.

The final State of the Global Climate 2023 report, along with regional reports, will be published in the first half of 2024.

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