Global average temperature anomalies in 2017. Image: nasa giss
Within the next five years, global average surface temperatures may temporarily breach a key guardrail set out by the Paris Climate Agreement, according to a new report from the U.K. Met Office...
The report warns that global average temperatures are "likely" to exceed 1 degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial temperatures within the next five years. The past three years, which have been among the warmest on record for the planet, have exceeded that mark, the Met Office said.
In a worrying development for the most vulnerable nations in the world — like low-lying island states like the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, and Fiji — the Met Office's report also states there is "a small (around 10 percent) chance that at least one year in the period could exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels (1850–1900)," though the Met Office does not predict that for 2018.
"It is the first time that such high values have been highlighted within these forecasts," the Met Office stated in a press release on Wednesday, which details a new outlook for the period from 2018 through 2022.
“Given we’ve seen global average temperatures around 1-degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels over the last three years, it is now possible that continued warming from greenhouse gases along with natural variability could combine so we temporarily exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next five years,” said Met Office chief scientist Stephen Belcher in a statement.
To be more specific, the Met Office stated in a report that it expects global average temperatures to remain between 0.96 degrees Celsius and 1.54 degrees Celsius, compared to preindustrial levels.
Essentially, this means that we're knocking louder against the door to climate disasters, given what scientists have discovered regarding the risks involved with different levels of global warming.
The Paris Agreement, which entered into force in 2016, commits global leaders to holding global warming to "well below 2 degrees Celsius," or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels by 2100. It also includes an aspirational goal of keeping warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius or lower compared to preindustrial levels.
This more stringent target was included at the strong urging of small island states and other most vulnerable nations, which are already suffering from severe consequences related to global warming, such as sea level rise and extreme heat waves. Every nation on Earth committed to the agreement, though President Donald Trump has pledged to withdraw from the U.S. as soon as the agreement allows, which would be in 2020.
However, a subsequent president could quickly reverse that decision.
It's also important to note that a one-year exceedance of the temperature target is not the same thing as a failure of the Paris Agreement, since the treaty refers to a longer-term average. However, it's not an encouraging sign for those hoping to keep these targets in the achievable range.
It's similar to watching waves lap higher up a beach, knowing that soon the tide will overtake a particular spot. (In this analogy, annual temperature records are the waves, and the long-term trend is the tide.)
“These predictions show that 1.5-degree Celsius events are now looming over the horizon, but the global pattern of heat would be different [from] a more sustained exceeding of the Paris 1.5-degree Celsius threshold," said Adam Scaife, head of long-range prediction at the Met Office.
"Early, temporary excursions above this level of warming are likely to coincide with a large El Niño event in the Pacific.”
No matter if the target is exceeded for a brief time or not, numerous studies have warned that the world is not currently on track to meet the Paris targets, and global average temperatures will instead soar well above 2 degrees Celsius compared to preindustrial levels by the end of the century, unless drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are made, down to at least zero, if not negative emissions, by the end of the century.
The targets are set by politicians, but they have real-world repercussions. For example, a study published in June found that the only way to save the 29 UNESCO World Heritage coral reef sites is to stick to the 1.5-degree target.
Recent research published in the journal Science found that coral reefs around the world are being hit with temperature-induced bleaching events at unprecedented frequencies, which could kill many reefs outright if rising ocean temperatures continue at current or predicted rates.
Scientific assessments have shown that if global warming were to exceed 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels, the ramifications will be far more severe for human society and natural ecosystems.
Any honest look at global emissions trends and energy policies shows that we're not on course to meet the Paris targets.
In fact, a draft report being prepared by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reportedly finds that the 1.5-degree target will be breached by the middle of the century, meaning that the long-term average will remain above that level by midcentury.
This means that, according to the UK Met Office, during the period from 2018 to 2022 we could get a single year preview of our future, more permanent, climate.
original story HERE
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