UN: Record-High Temperatures Projected for 2023-2027
The United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO) issued a warning on Wednesday, stating that the period between 2023 and 2027 is highly likely to become the warmest five-year period ever recorded. The combination of rising greenhouse gas emissions and the impending El Nino weather phenomenon is expected to drive global temperatures beyond the more ambitious target outlined in the Paris climate agreement. According to the WMO, there is a two-thirds chance that one of the next five years will exceed the threshold set by the agreement.
Rising Temperatures and the Paris Climate Agreement
The hottest years on record have predominantly occurred between 2015 and 2022. However, as climate change continues to accelerate, temperatures are projected to increase further. The Paris Agreement, established in 2015, aimed to limit global warming to “well below” two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with an aspiration to achieve 1.5 degrees Celsius if possible. In 2022, the global mean temperature was already 1.15 degrees Celsius above the average recorded between 1850 and 1900.
Implications of Rising Temperatures and the Impact of El Nino
The WMO indicates a 66 percent probability that annual global surface temperatures will exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels for at least one year between 2023 and 2027. Forecasts indicate a temperature range of 1.1 to 1.8 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels for each of the five years in question. While this does not imply a permanent breach of the Paris benchmark, the WMO emphasizes that there will be an increasing frequency of temporary exceedances. The agency’s chief, Petteri Taalas, warns of the far-reaching consequences on health, food security, water management, and the environment, urging global preparedness.
The Role of El Nino and Greenhouse Gases
El Nino refers to the warming of surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, occurring every two to seven years. This weather phenomenon alternates with its opposite, La Nina, with neutral conditions in between. The WMO reports a 60 percent probability of El Nino developing by the end of July, increasing to 80 percent by the end of September. Typically, El Nino leads to elevated global temperatures in the year following its development, which would align with 2024 in this cycle.
Greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, contribute to the retention of heat in the atmosphere. The concentration of these gases has reached record highs, further exacerbating the warming trend and its associated impacts.