April 20, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

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UNPRECEDENTED CLIMATE RECORDS IN 2023

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TAG: GS 3: ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT

THE CONTEXT: The World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) State of the Global Climate 2023 report reveals a disturbing trend of multiple climate records being shattered in the year.

EXPLANATION:

  • From greenhouse gas levels to ocean heat content, various indicators have reached alarming highs, signaling the accelerating pace of climate change.

Temperature Records:

  • Global Mean Temperature:
    • 2023 marked the warmest year on record, with the global mean near-surface temperature surpassing the previous record holders by a significant margin.
    • The temperature anomaly of 1.45 ± 0.12°C above the 1850-1900 average underscores the urgency of addressing climate change.
  • La Nina to El Nino Transition:
    • The rapid temperature rise from 2022 to 2023 can be attributed in part to the transition from La Nina to El Nino conditions.
    • This shift in the Pacific climate pattern influenced global temperature dynamics, contributing to the record warmth observed in 2023.

Greenhouse Gas Levels:

  • Record High Concentrations:
    • Greenhouse gas concentrations, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, reached unprecedented levels in 2022.
    • The concentrations of these gases exceeded pre-industrial levels by significant margins, with methane and nitrous oxide experiencing notable increases, highlighting the intensification of anthropogenic activities contributing to climate change.

Oceanic Changes:

  • Ocean Heat Content:
    • The total amount of heat stored by the oceans reached record levels in 2023.
    • Ocean warming trends, particularly in the top 2000 m layer, have accelerated over the past two decades, emphasizing the profound impact of climate change on marine ecosystems and global weather patterns.
  • Sea Level Rise:
    • The rate of sea-level rise surged to a record high since 1993, attributed to ongoing ocean warming and melting glaciers and ice sheets.
    • Satellite observations reveal a doubling of the sea-level rise rate, underscoring the urgent need for mitigative measures to address the impacts of rising sea levels on coastal communities and ecosystems.
  • Marine Heatwaves:
    • Marine heatwaves, characterized by persistently warm ocean temperatures, affected a significant portion of the global ocean in 2023.
    • The increased frequency and intensity of these events pose serious threats to marine biodiversity, fisheries, and ecosystem health.
  • Ocean Acidification:
    • The acidification of the ocean, driven by the absorption of anthropogenic carbon dioxide, has reached alarming levels.
    • The decrease in pH levels poses risks to marine organisms and ecosystem services, highlighting the interconnectedness of climate change impacts across various domains.

Polar Ice Dynamics:

  • Arctic and Antarctic Sea Ice:
    • Both the Arctic and Antarctic regions experienced notable changes in sea ice extent in 2023.
    • The Arctic Sea ice extent remained below normal, while the Antarctic sea ice extent reached a record low.
    • These trends underscore the vulnerability of polar regions to the impacts of climate change.

Glacier Retreat:

  • Global Glacier Mass Balance:
    • Preliminary data indicate a significant loss in glacier mass in 2023, with negative mass balances observed across various regions.
    • Glaciers in western North America and Europe experienced particularly severe losses, highlighting the accelerating pace of glacier retreat and its implications for water resources and sea-level rise.

World Meteorological Organization (WMO):

  • It is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN).
  • It is the UN system’s authoritative voice on the state and behavior of the Earth’s atmosphere, its interaction with the oceans, the climate it produces, and the resulting distribution of water resources.
  • It originated from the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), which was founded in 1873.
  • Established in 1950, WMO became the specialized agency of the UN for meteorology (weather and climate), operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences.
  • Its headquarters is in Geneva, Switzerland.

Greenhouse gas:

  • A greenhouse gas (GHG) is a gas that absorbs and emits radiant energy at thermal infrared wavelengths, causing the greenhouse effect.
  • The primary GHGs in Earth’s atmosphere are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and ozone (O3).

SOURCE: https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/climate-change/the-year-2023-smashed-several-climate-records-with-some-being-chart-busting-wmo-report-95115

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