Global temperatures will almost certainly hit record highs in the next five years

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Authoritative meteorological agencies have warned that global temperatures will almost certainly hit record highs in the next five years, and there is a high probability that global warming will exceed the key threshold of 1.5°C for the first time. High temperatures will have an impact on the global shipping service industry.

On Wednesday, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) updated its report that it is expected that between 2023 and 2027, the near-surface temperature will be 1.1°C-1.8°C higher than the pre-industrial (1850-1900) average. There is a 66% chance that warming will exceed 1.5°C for at least one year during this period; there is a 98% chance that at least one of the next five years, and all five years, will be the warmest years on record.

The global average surface temperature has never exceeded the threshold of 1.5°C warming, and the highest average temperature rise in previous years was 1.28°C. Under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, countries pledged to work to keep global warming below 1.5°C. Previous scientific studies have said that warming beyond this level will trigger a series of catastrophic and possibly irreversible effects.

The World Meteorological Organization also stated that breaking the critical threshold of 1.5°C in the next few years should only be temporary, but this will also mark a significant acceleration of human influence on the global climate system and bring the world into “uncharted territory”. Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the organization, said that the 1.5°C warming stipulated in the Paris climate agreement refers to the average level of many years, but the phenomenon of temporary breakthrough of 1.5°C will appear more and more frequently.

In the past year, many places around the world set new high temperature records. The U.N. report says this could be just the beginning, as warming and a developing El Niño will deliver a “double whammy”.

El Niño is a weather system that forms in the Pacific Ocean and brings about warming. For the past three years, the world has been in a La Niña phenomenon, which has had a dampening effect on rising temperatures. As La Niña ends and a new El Niño cycle takes shape, scientists say there is a 98 percent chance that at least one of the next five years will be the hottest on record.

World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Taalas said that the El Niño warming phenomenon is expected to appear in the next few months, and it will, together with human-induced climate change, push global temperatures into uncharted territory. And this will have profound implications for health, food security, water management and the environment, and we need to be prepared.

In addition, the report also said that this year’s rainfall in the Amazon Basin, Central America, Australia and Indonesia may decrease. This is especially bad news for the Amazon basin. Scientists are increasingly concerned that a vicious cycle of global warming and deforestation could turn the Amazon rainforest into a savannah-like habitat. The disappearance of the “lungs of the earth” tropical rainforest will bring catastrophic consequences to the earth.

In the next five years, northern Europe, Alaska in the United States, northern Siberia in Russia and the Sahel region in Africa may experience above-average rainfall.

Another study released on the same day by the World Weather Attribution organization (World Weather Attribution) stated that due to climate change, the temperature in South Asia has increased by at least 2 degrees Celsius since pre-industrialization. If the global average temperature rises by 2°C, India and Bangladesh may experience heatwaves of the magnitude of April this year every one to two years, and climate change has increased the likelihood of South Asia experiencing record-breaking heatwaves by 30 times.

Last month, many Asian countries experienced the “hottest April in history”. Monitoring stations in parts of India, Bangladesh, and Laos recorded abnormally high temperatures as high as 45°C, and some parts of Thailand even exceeded 50°C. The high temperature has damaged roads in the area, caused fires, closed schools, and even caused many deaths and a large number of hospitalizations.

Research suggests that heat action plans need to be implemented more quickly in India and other heat-affected countries. These programs, often administered and funded by governments, aim to help people cope with extreme heat by raising risk awareness, training health-care workers, and providing affordable cooling methods.

Emmanuel Raju, co-author of the study and director of the Disaster Research Center at the University of Copenhagen, said many people in South Asia lack access to healthcare and cooling solutions such as fans and air conditioners. The heat affects the poorest and outdoor workers the most. He said that many countries are still recovering from the new crown pandemic and past heat waves and cyclones, which have put them in a vicious circle, and it is critical to discuss and implement high temperature mitigation and adaptation strategies now.

Scientists say humid heatwaves that used to occur every 100 years in Bangladesh and India are now expected to occur every five years, and that high temperatures in Thailand and Laos are “virtually impossible” without climate change. Another co-author, Chaya Vaddhanaphuti, a lecturer at Chiang Mai University in Thailand, told a media briefing that heat waves are not natural and immediate and drastic measures to reduce carbon emissions are the only solution, otherwise record heat waves will become more and more common. Vancouver shipping company has expressed concern.

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