Crisis point: WMO’s latest climate update has flagged the likelihood of global average temperature rise breaching Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C in the next five years | Photo: Business Insider

40% chance of world hitting 1.5°C tipping point in next 5 years: WMO report

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) published a new climate update that predicted a 40% chance of the annual average global temperature temporarily reaching 1.5°C above the pre-industrial levels in at least one of the next five years. These odds will only increase in the years to come, the WMO’s Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update stated. The update, however, stated it was unlikely that the five-year mean annual global temperature for the entire 2021-2025 period will be 1.5°C warmer than pre-industrial levels. 

The report also stated that in the same time period, high-latitude regions and the Sahel in Africa will be wetter and there is a strong likelihood of the Atlantic witnessing more tropical storms compared to the 1981-2010 average.

Cyclone Yaas batters Odisha, West Bengal; experts link intensity to climate change

Cyclone Yaas made landfall in Odisha this past fortnight causing major devastation in its wake. At least 14 people died as the ‘very severe’ cyclone made its way through Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Experts blamed global warming for the intensity with which the cyclone made landfall. The cyclone recorded wind speeds between 130-140 kmph gusting to 155 kmph while crossing the coast.

Sea surface temperatures reached 30°C-31°C as the cyclone gathered speed in the Bay of Bengal, a trend that was also seen before Cyclone Tauktae in the Arabian Sea hit India’s west coast last month. According to experts, Indian seas have recorded higher than normal temperatures recently, thereby creating conditions that are conducive to frequent and rapidly intensifying cyclones. 

South India’s 2016-2018 drought worst in 150 years

A severe drought that hit Southern India between 2016 and 2018 was the worst the region has seen in the past 150 years, according to researchers in India and the US. The drought was a result of low rainfall during the northeast monsoon, which occurs during winter months, during that time period. The drought was severe enough for India’s six-largest city, Chennai, to declare a ‘Day Zero’ in summer 2019 as reservoirs went dry and groundwater levels dropped drastically. Such droughts have a considerable impact on agricultural production in the region, according to experts. Agriculture is the primary means of livelihood for more than 60% of the region’s rural population, which heavily depends on the winter monsoon. 

Amazon likely to be ravaged by severe fires this year, warn scientists

Persistent dry weather in the Amazon this year increases the risk of intense fires in the rainforest, scientists warned. A drought in the region could lead to destruction of biomes that are key to curbing climate change, according to Brazil’s national space research institute INPE. This trend was seen last year when dry weather led to massive fires in the Pantanal. This year, rainfall was sparse during the monsoon season – between November to April – in parts of the region known as the ‘arc of deforestation’, according to INPE data. The drought in the Pantanal was also more severe than the one in 2020, the data revealed.

Study establishes the vicious cycle of violence, vulnerability and climate change

A new research paper linked conditions that make a region vulnerable to climate change to a rise in the likelihood of “climate-conflict interactions”. The study used Yemen and Afghanistan as examples of “war-torn regions” that have endured severe humanitarian crises that are made worse by climate-related hazards. The study connected three fields of research to create a “unified conceptual model” to establish this link – determinants of social vulnerability to climate change, climatic drivers of armed conflict risk, and societal impacts of armed conflict. The study concluded by establishing a vicious circle of violence, vulnerability, and climate change impacts that these societies are trapped in. 

Greenland’s melting ice sheets leaking mercury: Study

Greenland’s melting ice sheets are most likely leaking toxic amounts of mercury, a new study revealed. Even though it is one of the most remote regions of the world, the water from the melting glaciers contain as much mercury as some of the most polluted regions of the world, according to the study that analysed meltwater in the southeast corner of the ice sheet. Researchers believe the mercury is being added from natural sources – possibly bedrocks beneath the ice. The levels, however, are concerning because the mercury is entering rivers and fjords, which are a source of fish for local communities.

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