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Glacier melting 'off the charts': WMO report

For global temperature, the years 2015-2022 were the eight warmest on record despite the cooling impact of La Niña
Last Updated : 21 April 2023, 17:28 IST

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From mountain peaks to ocean depths, climate change continued its advance in 2022, according to the annual report of the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The report speaks about the heatwaves in India and its impact on food security.

Droughts, floods and heat waves affected communities on every continent and cost many billions of dollars. Antarctic sea ice fell to its lowest extent on record and the melting of some European glaciers was, literally, off the charts.

The State of the Global Climate 2022 shows the planetary scale changes on land, in the ocean and in the atmosphere caused by record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

For global temperature, the years 2015-2022 were the eight warmest on record despite the cooling impact of a La Niña event for the past three years. Melting of glaciers and sea level rise - which again reached record levels in 2022 - will continue for thousands of years, according to a press statement issued in Mumbai.

“While greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and the climate continues to change, populations worldwide continue to be gravely impacted by extreme weather and climate events. For example, in 2022, continuous drought in East Africa, record breaking rainfall in Pakistan and record-breaking heatwaves in China and Europe affected tens of millions, drove food insecurity, boosted mass migration, and cost billions of dollars in loss and damage,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof Petteri Taalas.

On food security, the report states that as of 2021, 2.3 billion people faced food insecurity, of which 924 million people faced severe food insecurity. Projections estimated 767.9 million people facing undernourishment in 2021, 9.8 per cent of the global population. Half of these are in Asia and one third in Africa.

Heatwaves in the 2022 pre-monsoon season in India and Pakistan caused a decline in crop yields. This, combined with the banning of wheat exports and restrictions on rice exports in India after the start of the conflict in Ukraine, threatened the availability, access, and stability of staple foods within international food markets and posed high risks to countries already affected by shortages of staple foods.

“The pre-monsoon period was exceptionally hot in India and Pakistan. Pakistan had its hottest March and hottest April on record, with both months having national mean temperatures more than 4° C above the long-term average. In India, grain yields were reduced by the extreme heat and there were a number of forest fires, particularly in Uttarakhand,” the report states.

Climate change has important consequences for ecosystems and the environment. For example, a recent assessment focusing on the unique high-elevation area around the Tibetan Plateau, the largest storehouse of snow and ice outside the Arctic and Antarctic, found that global warming is causing the temperate zone to expand.

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Published 21 April 2023, 16:02 IST

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