March 11th, 2020
2019 was the second warmest year
on record and finished up with an average global temperature of 1.1 C above
The year was second only to 2016,
which saw an El Nino climate event contribute to global mean temperature on top
of what the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) called, “an overall warming
The WMO released its annual
findings on Tuesday and the organisation’s Secretary-General Petteri Taalas
said that temperature increases moving forward would be “a matter of
The report also cited a
preliminary projection of 0.6 per cent increase in CO2 emissions for 2019.
Such results, according to UN
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, shows that “we are currently way off track
to meeting either 1.5 C or 2 C targets that the Paris Agreement calls
The findings come on the heels of
the warmest January on record and an unseasonably mild winter in many pockets
of the northern hemisphere.
Smoke and air pollutants from the widespread bushfires in Australia have also caused a global spike in CO2 emissions and large-scale ice melting in Antarctica will see considerable sea level rise in the coming decades.
Warming temperatures have a
far-reaching effect on climate, particularly on the world’s oceans which absorb
90 per cent of the planet’s excess heat.
They can also lead to marine
heatwaves, which lasted for nearly 2 months and were felt in 84 per cent of the
ocean according to WMO data.
Ocean warming makes up almost a
third of total sea level rise through thermal expansion of sea water and additional
ocean acidification and deoxygenation also has a detrimental impact on marine
Coral reefs are projected to
decline between 10 and 30 per cent of their former cover at 1.5 C of warming
and will dwindle to less than 1 per cent at 2 C of warming.
Along with warming waters, the
report found that Arctic sea ice has continued its downward trend in cover and
that 2019 marked the 7th lowest year on record for the Greenland ice sheet in
terms of total mass balance.
Flooding led to the deaths of
over 2000 people in Asia during monsoon season and extensive flooding in the
Americas generated an accumulated economic loss of $22.5 billion.
Drought was also prevalent in many parts of southeast Asia, Australia and South America and wildfires raged in the Amazon and across Australia towards the latter half of the year.
Warming both on and offshore have
a drastic impact on human society, according to the report, particularly for
health, food security and migration.
have led to heat deaths around the world and increased hospitalizations and
climatic changes have made it easier for mosquitoes to transmit dengue virus
and about half the world is now at risk of infection.
The food security situation
deteriorated “markedly” in 2019 in some African countries, particularly in the
Greater Horn region, due to “climate extremes, displacement, conflict and
Extreme weather events such as Cyclone Idai in Southeast Africa and Hurricane Dorian in the Caribbean contributed to a total of 22 million people who were internally displaced as a result of natural disasters, an increase of more than 6 million from the previous year.