CHANGING CLIMATE TOO HOT TO HANDLE
A new State of the Climate report confirms that 2015 surpassed 2014 as the warmest year since at least the mid-to-late 19th century with last year’s record heat resulting from the combined influence of long-term global warming and one of the strongest El Niño events the globe has experienced since at least 1950.
The report found that most indicators of climate change continued to reflect trends consistent with a warming planet. Several markers such as land and ocean temperatures, sea levels and greenhouse gases broke records set just one year prior. These key findings and others are available from the State of the Climate in 2015 report released online today by the American Meteorological Society (AMS).
These finding reaffirms that continued efforts by Pacific Island countries need to be accelerated to keep the lead and momentum of the PIDF initiated Suva declaration and how important it is for Pacific leaders to continue their advocacy for climate action at COP22 and beyond.
“I am extremely concerned at the low level of ratification of the Paris Agreement to date with only 22 countries and 1.0% of emissions – the State of the Climate 2015 report confirms our worst fears, that time is not on our side and that projections on climate impacts were very much underestimated. This is why Pacific leaders need to remain vigilant and champion the ratification and implementation of the Paris Agreement globally,” said PIDF Secretary General François Martel.
“The proposed Pacific Climate Treaty discussed at the PIDF Leaders’ Summit last July in Honiara is in the same visionary wave as the Suva Declaration recommendations now enshrined in the Paris Agreement – which is to defend against a critical existential threat and phase out fossil fuels, compensate for loss & damage caused by climate change and monitor implementation of the Paris Agreement in our region,” he further added.
Secretary General Martel said that the Pacific nations together represent nearly one fifth of the planet and this would send a strong message to the rest of the world, if such a Treaty could be agreed upon and ratified by the most vulnerable nations on earth.
“Pacific Leaders did it before to pledge allegiance against nuclear arms so we should now look at fossil fuels in the same light. This State of the Climate Report 2015 for the Pacific reminds us of the urgency and confirms that climate-induced impacts will destroy our nations. The Pacific Islands should continue to be at the forefront of that battle,” he further com
The PIDF Secretary General also proposed for Pacific Leaders to invest in sustainable transport and to support the processes aimed at limiting emissions arising from maritime, land and aviation transport.
The report’s climate indicators show patterns, changes, and trends of the global climate system. Examples of the indicators include various types of greenhouse gases; temperatures throughout the atmosphere, ocean, and land; cloud cover; sea level; ocean salinity; sea ice extent; and snow cover. The report highlighted that major greenhouse gas concentrations, including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide, rose to new record high values during 2015 and aided by the strong El Niño, the 2015 annual global surface temperature hit record warmth for the second consecutive year, easily surpassing the previous record set in 2014 by more than 0.1°C (0.2°F).
The globally averaged sea surface temperature was also the highest on record, breaking the previous mark set in 2014. The highest temperature departures from average occurred in part of the northeast Pacific, continuing anomalous warmth there since 2013, and in part of the eastern equatorial Pacific, reflective of the dominant El Niño.
According to the report globally, upper ocean heat content exceeded the record set in 2014, reflecting the continuing accumulation of thermal energy in the upper layer of the oceans. Oceans absorb over 90 percent of Earth’s excess heat from global warming. It also revealed that global average sea level rose to a new record high in 2015 and was about 70 mm (about 2¾ inches) higher than the 1993 average. Over the past two decades, sea level has increased at an average rate of 3.3 mm (about 0.15 inch) per year, with the highest rates of increase in the western Pacific and Indian Oceans.
Extremes were observed in the water cycle and precipitation. A general increase in the water cycle, combined with the strong El Niño, enhanced precipitation variability around the world. An above-normal rainy season led to major floods in many parts of the world. But globally, areas in “severe” drought rose from 8 percent in 2014 to 14 percent in 2015. The report also documented that there were 101 tropical cyclones across all ocean basins in 2015, well above the 1981–2010 average of 82 storms. The eastern/central Pacific had 26 named storms, the most since 1992. The western North Pacific and north and south Indian Ocean basins also saw high activity.
The State of the Climate in 2015 is the 26th edition in a peer-reviewed series published annually as a special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The report, led by NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, is based on contributions from more than 450 scientists from 62 countries around the world and reflects tens of thousands of measurements from multiple independent datasets and provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments located on land, water, ice and in space.