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El Niño, Greenhouse Gas Emissions To Push Global Temperatures Into ‘Uncharted Territory’ Soon

Above Photo: The Arctic is expected to see temperature increases higher than the rest of the planet, consistent with the trend. SeppFriedhuber / E+ / Getty Images .

We’re fast approaching the threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels that we’ve been warned about.

According to the latest Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update, produced by the United Kingdom’s Met Office and issued by the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO), there is a 66 percent likelihood that between 2023 and 2027 the yearly average global temperature will be more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels for at least one year, a press release from WMO said.

“[I]t’s the first time in history that it’s more likely than not that we will exceed 1.5C,” said Adam Scaife, head of long-range prediction at Britain’s Met Office Hadley Centre, who worked on the WMO update, as Reuters reported.

Surpassing the temperature threshold would breach one of the Paris Agreement goals of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions enough to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to avoid or reduce adverse impacts of climate change.

“This report does not mean that we will permanently exceed the 1.5°C level specified in the Paris Agreement which refers to long-term warming over many years. However, WMO is sounding the alarm that we will breach the 1.5°C level on a temporary basis with increasing frequency,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas in the press release.

The WMO said that, in the next five years, greenhouse gas emissions coupled with El Niño are likely to cause global temperatures to reach record levels, and that there is a 98 percent chance that at least one year out of the next five — as well as the entire five-year period — will be the warmest since record keeping began.

“A warming El Niño is expected to develop in the coming months and this will combine with human-induced climate change to push global temperatures into uncharted territory,” Taalas said in the press release. “This will have far-reaching repercussions for health, food security, water management and the environment. We need to be prepared.”

According to the report, there is a 32 percent chance that the five-year average temperature will be greater than 1.5 degrees.

“Global mean temperatures are predicted to continue increasing, moving us… further and further away from the climate we are used to,” said Dr. Leon Hermanson, a Met Office expert scientist who led the report, in the press release.

Due to La Niña’s cooling influence over much of the past three years, the longer-term warming trend temporarily abated, and last year the average global temperature was about 1.15 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average.

However, La Niña ended in March of this year and El Niño is expected to develop later this year. Global temperatures usually increase the year after El Niño develops.

For each year between 2023 and 2027, the annual mean global near-surface temperature is expected to be between 1.1 and 1.8 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average.

Even reaching the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold temporarily is “an indication that as we start having these years with 1.5C happening more and more often, [then] we are getting closer to having the actual long-term climate be on that threshold,” said Hermanson, as reported by Reuters.

At least one of the next five years has a 98 percent chance of exceeding the temperature record set in 2016, a year that was influenced by a particularly strong El Niño event, the press release said.

As has been the trend, the Arctic is expected to see temperature increases higher than the rest of the planet, with its temperature anomaly predicted to be more than three times the global average over the next five winters in the northern hemisphere, compared to the average from 1991 to 2020.

According to the report, rainfall is expected to be higher than average in Alaska, the Sahel, northern Siberia and northern Europe from May to September of 2023 to 2027, and lower than average for parts of Australia and the Amazon.

“This report must be a rallying cry to intensify global efforts to tackle the climate crisis,” said Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace UK, as Reuters reported.

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