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2020 set to be one of warmest years on record

‘We are now experiencing a La Niña, which has a cooling effect on global temperatures, but that has not been sufficient to put a brake on this year’s heat,” said Prof. Taalas of the World Meteorological Organisation

Written by Esha Roy | New Delhi | December 2, 2020 2:08:46 pm
Global weather, 2020 warmest year, 2020 weather, World Meteorological Organisation, IMD, Global temperature, Indian express,Pedestrians holding umbrellas walk along a sidewalk in Tokyo, Japan. (Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg/File)

The year 2020 is set to be one of the warmest years in history with the average global temperature in the year likely to be around 1.2°C above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) level. There is at least a one in five chance of it temporarily exceeding 1.5 °C by 2024, said World Meteorological Organisation Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas.

The World Meteorological Organisation released its provisional report on the State of the Global Climate 2020 today in which it has said that the 2011-2020 will be the warmest decade on record, with the warmest six years being since 2015. The year 2016 has been the warmest year on record and is being followed closely by 2020 temperatures.

The report is based on data findings between the period of January and October 2020, and the final report on the state of the climate will be released in March 2021.

“Record warm years have usually coincided with a strong El Niño event, as was the case in 2016. We are now experiencing a La Niña, which has a cooling effect on global temperatures, but has not been sufficient to put a brake on this year’s heat. Despite the current La Niña conditions, this year has already shown near record heat comparable to the previous record of 2016,” said Prof. Taalas, adding that 2020 has been an extraordinary year for climate.

“We saw new extreme temperatures on land, sea and especially in the Arctic. Wildfires consumed vast areas in Australia, Siberia, the US West Coast and South America, sending plumes of smoke circumnavigating the globe. We saw a record number of hurricanes in the Atlantic, including unprecedented back-to-back category 4 hurricanes in Central America in November. Flooding in parts of Africa and South East Asia led to massive population displacement and undermined food security for millions,” he said.

The most notable warmth was observed across northern Asia, particularly the Siberian Arctic, where temperatures were more than 5 °C above average.

Ocean heat content for 2019 was highest on record in the datasets going back to 1960. There is a clear signal for faster heat uptake in recent decades, says the report. More than 90 per cent of the excess energy accumulating in the climate system as a result of increased concentrations of greenhouse gases go into the ocean. Global mean sea-level in 2020 is similar to that in 2019.

The number of tropical cyclones globally was above average in 2020, with 96 cyclones as of November 17.

In India, Cyclone Amphan, which made landfall on May 20 near the India-Bangladesh border in the eastern Bay of Bengal, “was the costliest tropical cyclone on record for the North Indian Ocean with reported economic losses in India of approximately US$14 billion’’, says the report. Large-scale evacuations of coastal areas in India and Bangladesh meant that casualties were far lower than in previous comparable cyclones in the region with only 129 lives lost across the two countries.

India also had one of its two wettest monsoon seasons since 1994, with nationally-averaged rainfall for June to September 9 per cent above the

long-term average. Heavy rain, flooding and landslides also affected surrounding countries. August was the wettest month on record for Pakistan, and 231 mm of rain fell on 28 August at Karachi-Faisal, the highest daily total on record in the Karachi area. More than 2000 deaths were reported during the season in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Myanmar, including 145 deaths in flash flooding in Afghanistan in late August, and 166 deaths in a landslide at a mine in Myanmar in early July, following heavy rain.

“The report has implications for people living in India. It has the seventh longest coastline in Asia to the tune of 7,500 km. There are 9 coastal states and 2 Union Territories in India that have a population of about 560 million. In 2014, around 177 million people lived in coastal districts and 0.44 million lived in island territories in India which are considered to be at a greater risk based on the report,’’says climate scientist and professor at the Bharti Institute of Public Policy. Dr.Anjal Prakash.

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